This is the view of Mt Timpanogos from my front yard. This picture looks a bit like The Eye of Sauron, so that adds to the badassness of Timp!
This last summer a few of us decided to hike Timp, which in its entirety is about 15.5 miles. I believe somewhere in the planning of this hike it was mentioned that the hike would take about 12 hours round trip. My brain has a tendency to hear what it wants to, not neccesarily what has been said. So the twelve-hour part didn’t really stick in my mind. I have this goal of one day meditating in the Himalayas overlooking beautiful peaks and mountain ranges. Hiking Timpanogos seemed like a good place to start working towards this goal. Let me tell you what I learned from this hike, and how it has changed the way I am approaching my goals and dreams.
About three hours into this hike I was confused why we still hadn’t reached the top, I wanted to turn around, leave my group (and my dogs), and go wait in the car. This is when it was again mentioned to me the twelve-hour round trip part- and you guys- I panicked. I had already cried a few times, I was already sore, and apparently we weren’t even close to being halfway done! If I quit then and turned around I would have essentially completed half the hike, which is an accomplishment in itself. But I know I would sit in the car for those final six hours feeling regret. I didn’t realize how hard this hike would be, I didn’t realize the work it would take to actually reach the top. I was in the best shape of my life- literally. And yet my brain was telling me we couldn’t finish and to quit now. My brain does that. It’s really great at making excuses and talking me out of finishing things. This is a big part of why I stayed overweight and unhealthy for so many years, my brain is always my enemy when something is hard.
Instead of watching me quit, my husband slowed his pace and walked behind me (which is why most of the pictures show me leading the way), our friends who were hiking with us, slowed their pace as well. At this point we were in this twelve hours of insanity together, and I was recommitted. Every now and then my head would start nagging me, telling me we needed to stop, we needed to turn around, and we should have been to the top by now! Each time, I would acknowledge the thought, yet continue what I was doing anyhow. As we hiked we would pass other hikers on their way down, who would encourage us in passing- it was like a small community on the trail. Eventually we reached about the halfway point, which is actually a few miles below the summit. This is where the glacier and the lake are. The meadows are full of wildflowers and mountain goats. It was breathtaking, and incredibly satisfying to sit down and take it all in.
Sitting there I realized how incredibly hard it had been to get to this point, the point where my brain chose to see some kind of progress, and accomplishment. The point where the task at hand isn’t really “work” anymore, but actually something I enjoy. And it hit me how much of my life is treated the same way. My crossfit/health journey was the same. It took me SO long to recognize the accomplishment of simply showing up each day. Many things I do in life are “tasks” until I recognize the accomplishment. This realization has helped me better surrender to the joy of the process, and recognize the joy in simply taking the first steps. This realization has also helped me understand the work that goes into truly fulfilling something I set out to do.
I never reached the summit. My dog Whitley gave us a good scare when we though she had fallen off the side of a cliff. So I elected to keep the dogs while everyone else hit the summit. I was satisfied with my choice, and took the next hour or so to nap with my dogs in the sun.
The hike down the mountain was equally as hard as the hike up. My knees hurt, my hips hurt, and my feet ached in a way I’m not sure I can describe- but my brain was silent. There was no attempt at self sabotage. There was no voice telling me I couldn’t succeed, no little voice telling me to quit. I had made it. I had set a goal and then smashed it, even though my head had told me to quit on that mountain, more than it told me we would succeed.
Many times in my life my brain tells me to quit. Many times my brain wins out long before I have even attempted something. You know the feeling of making a commitment to yourself, only to let yourself down a few weeks, or months later? This was a feeling I was very familiar with. It became so familiar I didn’t even realize the things I was missing out on because I had let myself down so many times before, and now I was afraid to even try.
After hiking Timp I finally understood that if I want to accomplish any of my goals in life I will have to take many “first steps” and a few leaps. Sure sometimes I will fall, sometimes my head will be an asshole, and sometimes I will cry throughout the hard parts- but I refuse to let myself down. Today I celebrate my ability to try something, even if I’m out of my comfort zone. Today I allow my head to be a part of the ride, but she is no longer driving. I am gentle with myself, knowing I wont be great at something the first time I try, and probably not even the thirtieth time either. I am honest with myself and feel into my decisions before I commit, lessening the chance of failure.
I recently decided to delve deeper into my ascension practice. I attended a weekend retreat with some phenomenal people and teachers. And while simple meditation is a regular thing for me. Daily ascension, done with intent and dedication is not. My head has found her voice again- speaking up and asking me to quit. Pointing out how awkward I feel, and how “we aren’t doing this correctly”. Encouraging me to stay in my comfort zone, because its pretty comfy here! But today I remember the lessons I learned on the mountain, and how if I ever want to meditate in The Himalayas I need to put in the daily work towards that goal. So today I won’t quit. I’ll carve out the time to ascend, and I will appreciate the fact that I have taken the first steps. My heart is full of gratitude, for the people in my life who walk this path with me. But more than anything I am grateful for myself and this new journey where I have faith in myself, even when the fear and doubt creeps in.
Thank you guys for showing up in my life, loving me like you do, and taking the time to read my words. I love you…