Saturday, June 20, 2015

Go Above Your Nerve

I'm in the process of reading Cheryl Strayed's memoir "Wild"... the documentation of her 1100-mile sojourn on the Pacific Crest Trail during the summer of 1995.  She begins her journey on the Mojave Desert and hikes through California and Oregon before completing ninety-four days crossing the Bridge of the God's in Washington state.

With each stop along the way, she signs the trail log book with her name and a literary quote pertinent to what she's endured to get there.

One of my favorite quotes is her first...

The concept of pursuing the unknown in light of fear has always, always fascinated me.  I see it playing out in my life and the lives of those I love, all of the time. Most recently, we were on a family bike ride and my 7-year old Kate was desperate to stay on her bike while climbing a steep hill.  Watching her 10-year old brother do it with ease was both motivating and infuriatingly frustrating.  Riding alongside her on my bike, she kept saying, "I can't do it.  I can't balance.  It's too hard.  Just go."  And so I did.  I slowly and sadly biked up the hill.  As I was turning the corner to head onto my favorite bridge, she passed me with a HUGE smile on her face.  "I did it!" she screamed, sweat beating down her face. "I did it!"

In that moment it hit me that confidence of any sort only comes in the doing...there really is nothing intellectual about it.  Nerve comes from testing the boundaries and conquering.  It's visceral...physical...garnered through experience, especially, when you're really, really scared.

The ability to do something extraordinary that you've never done before comes in leaving your ego at the door and recognizing that you can fail at anything in why not risk failing at something you really, really want instead of the safer choice.

That's when I stumbled upon this quote...

I later told Kate that she not only can bike up any hill that she wants but that really anything is possible when you're willing to go for it.  And the more you try, the more you fail, the more you learn and eventually, the stronger you become...until one day, you're so strong that you say to the I am, I'm not afraid.  I want to experience all of it...even if it hurts and even if I never arrive.  It's worth being unbalanced, stumbling, falling off and looking up to see that the top of the hill is really far away...but if you surrender, one day, you just might get there.

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