New Year's Resolutions: The Struggle is Real

The Grand Canyon with a Friend

The Joy

Years ago, a friend and I visited the Grand Canyon . It was my first visit and his third. The view across the canyon was amazingly grand. Go figure. In every direction I looked, the view traveled off for miles in every direction. It was both imposing and oh so beautiful. It was no surprise that my friend asked if I wanted to hike down into the canyon on one of the trails, I didn’t hesitate. I was fit – I worked out at a gym, I did cardio regularly and I even had on comfortable sneakers. There was nothing to stop me.

At first the trail sloped gently, granite steps making the deeper descent almost easy.
The switchbacks allowed us to see the canyon and the Colorado River from different views and angles. With so much beauty surrounding us, it was easy to feel extraordinarily alive and have the miles slide by. Three miles slid by to be exact. Down.

The Struggle

As we all know – what goes down must come up. In this case, up was a far, far different experience. Up was dusty and steep. Up was facing rock walls that soared skyward obliterating the top of the trail. Up was lifting tired legs onto twelve inch steps over and over again. Up was hauling my tired carcass every step. Up was sweaty and sticky. Up was steep. Up was kicking my gym trained fanny.

Odd. I had expected that going upwards would be just as easy as going downwards. We all have our fantasy worlds, evidently mine was thinking I was Sir Edmund Hillary climbing Mt. Everest. The reality that I was facing was the realization that I was woefully unprepared for this change in direction. The highest stairs I had climbed were the ones going into the gym.

A mind does interesting things when it experiences an unexpected reality. Mine chose to be a Dramatic Debbie Downer. “I can’t believe how out of shape I am. If I stopped now, maybe I could be airlifted out. Wait, that would be embarrassing – but it would be equally embarrassing to just quit right here on the trail and have my friend carry me out. I wonder if they actually airlift people out or do they just use a mule? Wait, a mule would be even more embarrassing! Why can’t I do this? This is too hard. Why did I say yes? Aaaaaargh!

The Realization

The more I tried to gag the voices in my head, the worse my head spun with recriminations. Being stoic was battering me as much as the trail was, so I tried something different – the truth.

I told my friend how much I was struggling and that I had been too embarrassed to tell him. I told him that I was worried that it would be too late for Life Flight to get me out before I lost my mind. As friends do, he laughed and something unknotted within me then. He even normalized my pitiful experience by telling me about his first trip up… how he thought he was going to lose a lung the way he was gasping for breath. Gotta’ love friends that get your pain – it’s how you know you’re not alone. On the way up he did something so small and so helpful that I’ll never forgot it.

The Change

In that last mile of never ending switchbacks, he repeatedly called out things like: “Nice stamina for a first timer,” “I’m proud of how you’re keeping with it,” “Great job, kid,” and “You got this.” Somehow, not only did my mind stop berating me but I also found out that I had a cheering section. That made all the difference.

When you get into that Spring Struggle Spot and find yourself blaming yourself for your lack of follow through, go find a friend and ask for help . Even if you’re embarrassed, or messy, or doubt yourself, just ask for help. Even if you don’t think you deserve it, ask for help. Keep asking for help. There is a world that is waiting to help you laugh and cheer you on.

Go on. Get out there.

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