“Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.” -Richard M. Nixon
“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” -Sir Edmund Hillary
There are many types of mountains we all have to climb, or will climb, or be forced to climb in our lifetime. We are never alone in that. We all will be faced with the question, “What’s your mountain?”, and at some point we will need to face that mountain and answer the question. Each of our journeys are unique, too, albeit, similar at times, but they are our own, so we can never really learn from someone else’s “climb”. The timing may be different, the weather, your age, or attitude will make it impossible to replicate someone else’s climb. Why, do you ask, am I stating this obvious notion? As an amputee I see many other amputees who are looking to others for help, and that’s good, unless it creates a feeling of being “behind” the norm or creates a feeling of sadness and depression because the thought is, “I’ll never get there”.
This journey is mine. You can learn from things I have seen, gone through, and felt, but you will never have the same experience that I have had. I, too, became caught up in wanting to be where other amputees were right from the get go, only seeing their successes but not how much time, energy and attitude they had put into their “skill”. It was maddening! I had to tell myself, a highly competitive individual, to stop comparing and wishing for what they had achieved. I had to set my own course, take hold of my journey, and find my very own mountain to climb…….and you know what??? I AM TRULY HAPPY!!!
This is my life, my journey, my mountain. No one can claim it, no one can take it from me, and I can compete all day long with myself to be better than I was yesterday. It is liberating! It is freeing! It gives my competitive nature a huge rush! I am grateful for my decision to amputate. I wouldn’t go back to where I was: NEVER! But, (of course there’s a but) not everyday is roses. If anyone tells you that, not just another amputee, but ANYONE, then they aren’t being truthful. With mountain climbing, there are set backs, there are valleys. Those valleys can be hard and you can feel like you’ll never see the top… but you will, I promise. The valleys are where you find out who you are and what you are made of. It’s where your grit and determination are found. No one grows with success. It’s in failures and setbacks in which you will grow; mentally, emotionally, physically. With valleys come a new day to try, and to climb. When you push yourself you’ll realize one day you are at the top, you made it out of the valley and climbed your mountain, oh, and on that day, your view will be SPECTACULAR! You’ll have earned that view, and there is nothing more exhilarating or rewarding than that.
So, enough metaphors, right? 😉 I want you to know that I hear you. I hear how tough life is right now, and I am here for you. I feel an obligation and a joy, in helping those who are navigating this new world like I am. Do I have it all figured out? Absolutely not! But I am willing to walk the path with you. We can learn from each other. We can pick each other up, dust each other off and begin again. We weren’t made to go through life alone, we are creatures who thrive with community and partnerships. No matter where you are on your journey, there is someone looking to you to get to that next milestone, or point, in their own life. Be brave, be bold, be honest about the bumps and bruises, and please, be REAL!
I have spent the past 2 months pushing myself to hike, which is quite a path as an above knee amputee. I have found very rocky trails that have challenged me. It began with making it half way and turning around, to making the whole loop of 4.5 miles, to trying to push myself to achieve my highest elevation hike AND my longest. I didn’t start with Mount Humphreys in Flagstaff. I started with putting one foot in front of the other. Just walking down to the end of my block was hard and felt like torture, in the beginning! Now I can hike up and over boulders for 6 hours! This took time, determination, attitude and practice! You WILL get there! You just need to figure out what it is you want to achieve and go for it.
Oh, did I tell you? You can create your own mountains! I love the idea of putting a challenge in front of myself. That’s what keeps me going. Actually, I can recall at one point in time that I became really sad, during this journey of mine. I had done everything I set out to do in my first year of being an amputee, it was amazing but then I felt I had nothing else to prove to myself or others. Being as competitive as I am, I felt like I had lost my purpose, my drive, my “what’s next?” It was not a good time for me, but I didn’t allow myself to stay there. I began creating new goals, I set new mountains out in front. I began to create a regimen for myself and found a purpose again.
….and I have never looked back!
So, what’s your mountain? How will you attack it? Who do you have in your corner, helping you, supporting you as you take on the challenge? I’m here for you! I’m in your corner. I’m routing you on, because I know you can achieve anything you put your mind to complete.
Seize the day! Carpe diem…. go get the mountain!!
“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so….get on your way!” -Dr. Seuss