Adventure, Hiking, Leadership, Presence of Mind

Why We Are All Meant to Be Climbers

March 3, 2017

After sitting most of the work week and being inside for so long, I knew I needed some time outdoors. I can sense it when my energy gets pretty low, and my surroundings start to feel too confined.


That Sunday morning, I drove down to Crowder’s Mountain. The moment that I stepped out of the car and I smelled the pine and saw the trailhead, I felt myself begin to relax. Oftentimes at this point, I feel the urge to snag a picture or adjust my music. But, this time, I left my phone in the car.


I set out on a run. I set out on a climb.


As I ran deeper onto the trail, I started to see some rocks and boulders. Running on rocks is almost meditative – as much as they make me pay closer attention as I climb the trail, navigating their natural puzzle, they always seem to relax me.


I looked over my left shoulder. The morning sun was beginning to come out over the mountaintop.  It was a beautiful view through the trees and I started to lose track of time.


I was about halfway up the mountain when I felt my body and mind settle into the pace of the run. That felt about right; it usually takes me just about 20 minutes to settle into it and then see what’s around me – the greenery, the path, my dog running ahead looking back with that “this-is-so-awesome-Dad-let’s-keep-going” face.


I approached the top. The trail got steeper. And my run turned into a slower hike.


As I hit the last few steps to the summit, I could feel the air on my face. It was much colder. Almost out of breath, I started to see the view from the top.  The sky was so open and so clear and so blue.  There was nothing but open space in my view. And, in that moment, an overwhelming sense of wonder hits me.


That sense of wonder turns into a sense of possibility and excitement.  I wonder what else is out there; I wonder what else could be?


This wasn’t simply a Sunday morning run. This was a climb – a purposeful move into and out of a confined space; a shift from the thick of a forest to the open view of a mountain’s summit.


I think we are all meant to be climbers; not social climbers or actual rock climbers. Climbers as in seekers of open space.


There’s clearly great power in the climb but as much as we think our work is the actual climb, there’s a step before that. In order to climb, we must identify the confined space in which we find ourselves.


For me, I am inside a lot during the day. So when I have been sitting for a long time and I feel the natural urge to move I know immediately what my confined space is – the office – and I know what I need to do – get outside, run, explore, climb, wander.


During the week, I find being outside on a run, bike ride or hike keeps me centered. But what seems to feel really impactful is a weekend climb up the mountain and a view of a wide open vista.


I climb for a few reasons. To feel that sense of freedom, curiosity and wonder. To feel more alive and in the moment. To see new possibilities and open up my thinking. But, also to feel more connected to what’s important; what’s simple. Those are all the things that will get me out of any confined space.


As I make my way down that mountain many times I find myself laughing out loud like a little kid.  I think I laugh at how something so simple can also be so profound.

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