When You Face the Climb
Updated: Sep 19, 2018
A personal story from October 17, 2017.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to tackle the climb that day (physically or metaphorically), after all, I was relaxing along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline on a rare warm and sunny day in October. This particular visit to the beach was born of intention to kick off a glorious time of reset and to tap into some serious rejuvenation. But amongst all the peaceful walks along the shoreline, the allure of the most vertical dune on the beach enticed me; how things like this often do for people who like a challenge.
So I began the climb.
Slowly feet sliding with every step like a stair-climber at the gym, I felt like I was going nowhere. There was serious potential of this being an all-day endeavor at that point.
I paused and thought “clearly I am not 25 anymore”.
Then I took a few more steps and one quarter of the way up, I looked up at the distant top and reconsidered, but I put my head down, focused on breathing and kept going albeit slowly. When I reached about half way, I took a moment to stop and turned around to reflect on the waves. From this vantage point, they were much more than the white caps at the shoreline. I could see complex currents beneath the surface with sand stirring and rolling within. A beautiful motion of different shades of blue, green and brown stripes in the water.
I kept on, beginning to huff and puff at this point.
Three quarters of the way up, the pitch became even steeper. I was almost at a crawl when up out of all the small dead pieces of wood debris from the last storm, stood a tall strong stick positioned vertically in sand in front of me. After taking a moment to sputter, “thank you Jesus”, the walking stick became my pole vault to get over the last hump. I would hoist it in front of me, hold on with a death grip and pull myself upward in the sliding sand.
I continued to climb, huffing and puffing more.
And as I pulled up my head after being so focused on each step, there laid a dead tree in my path, so I rested. I was thankful for a moment to sit on something solid and reflect how far I’d come, and I took some photos. After catching my breathe, and relishing the beauty below, I proceeded knowing the end of the climb was near. Then, I realized my phone wasn’t in my pocket, so in a mild panic, I had to go back downward to the log concerned of what I’d lost while I rested.
Only to realize, once I returned to my resting log, that I had tucked my phone into a secure spot in my shirt, so I wouldn’t lose it.
A lesson in trusting myself – I did have this – so I continued my way back up the dune.
When I reached the top, the wind had a glorious burst that swirled around me like a victory dance. I opened my arms, closed my eyes and savored the breeze as it reminded me the benefit of doing hard things. And then I rested again, this time at a spot of my choosing in the sun. I opened my backpack to free write in my journal and eat my lunch. I fully embraced and admired the view from the tops of the trees of the seemingly endless water below me. I sat and enjoyed this amazing place with no time constraint, no distraction, I was the only one on the entire beach. My mind relaxed and my body felt strong.
Inevitably, it was time to go back to where I began.
The way down was joyful, a fun rhythm of frolic mixed with jumping and nearly tumbling. A worthwhile finish to a mighty climb.
We all face climbs, victories, setbacks and fatigue whether our dune is mighty or small. What a beautiful gift we give ourselves if we can stop long enough to see the undercurrents, feel the energy in our surroundings, lean on the supports in our path and admire our world from a new perspective.
Go take on your day, and awaken your potential.