Summoning Your Will
It Was Supposed To Be Easy
"Let's go hike Camelback Mountain," I suggested enthusiastically
to my friend, Monica. She had traveled from Connecticut to visit
me and an outdoor excursion into the Arizona landscape seemed
like a great idea. After all, Camelback was listed in the book:
Best Easy Day Hikes. Little did I know
that the hike would test my will as much as my body.
What rattled me about Camelback wasn't the possibility of encountering
snakes. It was the steep and rocky patches that required some
careful footing. Fortunately for me, in addition to being a good
friend, my hiking companion happened to be a life coach and therapist.
Her encouragement was invaluable during our trek, especially in
my moments of exhaustion and exasperation. Later that day, over
full platters of Mexican food (our reward for making the climb),
we laughed and toasted each other, as we reflected on our lessons
from the mountain, which were actually about hiking through
Lessons From The Mountain
In one area of the mountain there is a strategically placed railing
to hold, as you ascend the rocky path. I found the railing difficult
to use, however, due to the big bottle of Smart Water I was carrying
in one hand. (Apparently it would have been smarter to
have brought a water holster and some rock climbing gloves.) At
certain points I stopped in my tracks. As other hikers passed
us on their way back down, I provided my own commentary: “Don’t
mind me. I’m just having a fear moment.” Later, Monica
applauded my technique. I had stopped, but not for long. I vocalized
my fear and then literally moved through it.
Either You’re Almost There Or You Have A Ways To
About 40% of the people we encountered coming down the mountain
told us, “You have a ways to go.” The other 60% assured
us, “You’re almost there.” I found this very
interesting and quite funny. I guess it’s all relative and
the main thing is to keep moving.
Stay Vertical (Don’t Clutch the Mountain)
“May I give you a hint?” This question was offered
by a very physically fit older man who clearly knew the terrain.
He observed that I was clutching the mountain so tightly that
not only was I horizontal – practically climbing on all
fours – but my diaphragm was getting crushed. (Well, at
least that explained my light-headedness!) He told me to stay
vertical and as I adjusted my posture, the life lesson wasn’t
lost on me. When we grip too tightly, we diminish our
ability to progress. He offered a few more climbing tips
before leaving me. Look for small steps and if you don’t
see one immediately in front of you, it’s okay to
look to the left or the right. As you stride, place your
foot right under your knee; don’t go ahead of yourself.
Just Look for the Next Foothold
Monica kept catching me looking far ahead or glancing behind us.
I hadn’t even gotten to the top yet and I was worried about
how we were going to get back down! To encourage staying in the
present, she had me count each step as I was taking it and focus
on the ground in front me.
When You Feel Like Giving Up, Don’t
During our hike, I considered turning back at least three times.
Just when we thought we were at the top, we discovered the last
stretch would take us another twenty minutes. By this time, my
water bottle was empty and my stomach was growling. I saw the
look in Monica’s eyes: a mixture of compassion and disappointment.
She would have sacrificed going to the top for me, but she really
wanted to summit. On one side of us, there was a couple who had
decided to go no further. Then, Monica reminded me of something
we learned from yoga class: When you feel like giving up,
don’t. This is precisely when growth occurs
and you have the opportunity to open to expansive possibilities
in your life.
At that point I realized that sometimes it’s simply a matter
of pure will. Summoning your will, when your desire has
waned, is what makes the difference in reaching new heights.
No sooner had we decided to push on, then another man appeared,
endorsing our decision: “You’ve come too far to chicken
out now.” In a flash, we were back in touch with our desire
to make it to the top.
Your Victory Dance Awaits You!
When we finally
reached the summit, what physical energy we had left miraculously
multiplied and erupted into a spontaneous victory dance. As we
asked someone to take our picture, Monica smiled, “This
will be a story for your Ezine.”
Since our excursion, on a recent hike up the Superstition Mountains,
I met a young girl about ten years old. She groaned and moaned
as her big sister prodded her on. I smiled and asked her, “When
you reach the top, what will your victory dance look like?”
She obliged and demonstrated for me. Later, as I stepped off the
peak, I saw her rounding the corner, just strides away from her
What Is Your Summit?
What is the summit in your life that challenges you right now?
Use these lessons from the mountain to inspire you as you summon
your will to proceed.
“I contain an inner reservoir of
which serves me and others well.”
– Julia Cameron¹
Here's to you,
¹Julia Cameron, Blessings: Prayers and Declarations
for a Heartfelt Life, (New York, NY, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam,
©1998), page 142.