Monthly Archives: November 2011
Two weeks ago today, I had the honor of climbing with Charley Mace, one of America’s most accomplished Himalayan mountaineers. So far, all of my climbing has been done in the summer, and I was looking to learn something new. After the first hour, it became obvious that it’s been 15 months since my last climb, and that I’d been sedentary for 10 of those months while healing from back to back ankle surgeries (indoor soccer tore me up). Charley continued to be patient and teach me how to move quicker and more efficiently to be safe. We also had plenty of time to get to know each other, and I got to hear some truly amazing stories – about some of our veteran soldiers.
You see, Charley is currently the CEO of a charity organization known as Soldiers to the Summit, and is using his gift for climbing to teach far greater lessons to our veterans who have returned home different than how they left. If you know a veteran of the armed services who is having severe trouble re-adjusting to normal day to day activities, then perhaps Charley and his group can help. If you feel led to give to help these men and women, please make a donation in any amount through the above linked website.
Keep an eye out for the upcoming movie, High Ground, about leading their first group of 11 wounded veterans up Lobuche, a 20,075 foot peak in the shadow of Everest, and the healing that takes place as a result. The day before our climb, Charley had just returned from Washington, DC, where he previewed the film before members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Leon Panetta, and several veterans from Bethesda Medical.
On this Veterans Day, I want to thank my father (Colonel, TXANG (ret) – Operation Desert Freedom/Storm), and all those who have sacrificed themselves for the freedom we hold sacred.
Commitment. The very word conjures fear in many people, but have you ever committed to something you love doing? That’s what we did this past weekend – paid the deposit and turned in the paperwork to Mountain Vision Expeditions. I guess there’s no turning back now, which in all honesty is a little scary. All the “what if’s” start to come into play, and the battle to build mental strength begins.
Sitting at the computer screen this morning the “what if’s” seem so varied and numerous that I could never count them as fast as my mind could produce them. However, I know the importance of staying focused and controlling that fear. On summit morning next August, the number of “what if’s” won’t be nearly as numerous, but the intensity level will ramp up many
times over. Learning to handle the worries by changing my focus, my perspective is extremely important. It’s not merely a matter of pushing the fearful thoughts out of your mind – they have a way of returning and seem even more rational the second time around – it’s about transforming fears into excitement!
Taking a few specific examples of fear that appear to be rational regarding Kilimanjaro:
1) The cost. We are neither rich, nor are we poor, and like everyone else in the middle class, we could always use the money toward something else. However, we value our relationship and shared life experiences above material goods.
2) It’s a long ways away in what most consider to be a third world country. We view this as an entirely new culture with interesting people, who we look forward to meeting and learning from.
3) It’s too hard physically. We believe fitness level is an important part of living a full life, but understand that staying fit merely for the purpose of staying fit isn’t a good enough reason (for us). Having a goal larger than ourselves gives us ample motivation to work out on days we don’t feel like it, and to push those workouts even harder.
This is a microcosm for dealing with real life fears. It’s important to learn to change one’s perspective around and enjoy the life we have been given.