The mountain in the photo here is Sundance Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a sentimental favorite because we hiked it just about every year with my Dad from childhood to just two years before he died. After he passed away we took some of his ashes up there. It looks really impressive, doesn’t it? Really it’s sweet day hike, challenging without being technical, that starts above timberline. But who cares? Every time we made the summit we felt like Sir Edmund Hillary!
That’s the way we should all feel whenever we are afraid to do something, anything, even a seemingly small thing, and we do it anyway! We should be proud like conquering heroes. Because, damn it, we are!
Some parents are better at teaching us this lesson than others. My own father got it sort of mixed it up, as in: “Take a risk, but be real careful when you do.”
He was well into his fifties when he finally took the huge step of leaving his cushy position with the Menninger Clinic to head off on his own into private practice. When I asked him many years later if he ever regretted the gamble he took, he smiled sheepishly and said he only regretted not doing it sooner.
When it came to hiking and horseback riding, though, my Dad loved taking it to the edge. That’s what I like to remember about him. He scared the begeezus out of us by scrambling right up to a cliff over-hang or taking his horse into dark wood trails where any number of spooky things lurked. But the beauty we beheld! The exhilaration of overcoming fear! That’s the lesson I try to hold close to my heart, bring forward for myself and share with you.
A lot of life happily occupies our comfort zones. There’s no right or wrong about that. If all our life stays there that’s OK, but it’s not for everyone and maybe it’s not enough for you.
True growth, perhaps even self-actualization, happens just outside of that comfy place. Sometimes we get there gently, by a quiet nudge. Sometimes that moment of truth is forced upon us cataclysmically. But there’s always a choice. You don’t have to jump into the void. You can choose to walk (or run) the other way. Or you can lean in to your power, as Sheryl Sandberg suggests.
Maybe you’ll decide: Not now, but I will be back and soon.
Or perhaps you will choose to take that liberating hop, a scintillating skip or a mighty damn-it-all f@#k it!!! leap right now and soar!