Saturday, August 27, 2011
It's Tougher Near the Summit
Of course, the rest of us mere mortals also know that just getting above treeline adds difficulty to hiking, bouldering or tackling a wall. The oxygen levels have gone down so we labor even more.
It's always fun to watch the people at high altitude tourist areas who just got out of their car or the tram such as on Pike's Peak or in the Alps. You see them begin to struggle almost immediately with the change in atmosphere. If they're not careful they can actually pass out.
A similar discomfort can meet us as we climb a life mountain. We've worked hard to climb day after day, week after week and we can sense that we're getting close to an important summit. But altitude can become a sudden obstacle if we're not ready for it.
Sometimes we thought we were doing well emotionally, and then our grief bubbles over, our anger flares or our sadness becomes overwhelming. We wrestle again with our new normal or get depressed again because we face once more that something we lost will never come back.
But never quit climbing. Anticipate now that your emotional oxygen may be thin even as you're sensing the summit is near. You're normal when you hit that new wall and find it hard to breathe. It's OK. Just don't quit. Stay close to the people who've been roped together with you this far on the journey.
Keep taking one step at a time. Get through one more day. Do something else for someone along the way. Take the focus off your pain for a little while.
I remember watching those dramatic scenes in the IMAX Everest movie where Ed Viesturs is slogging slowly but deliberately through the thigh-high snow. He's almost there but the challenge is increasing not slowing up. It would have been easy to turn around because it was so hard. But he kept on.
You do the same. It's hard but the results will come. Remember, the view from the top is worth it!