I was stuck. My knees shook despite my significant rock climbing experience growing up.
I’m quite fearless, and have had people tell me that I can maneuver across rocks like Spiderman, yet here I was, feeling genuinely nervous.
To the right of me was the direction I needed to go, but a cliff overhang made it impossible to traverse. On my left was the way I came, but as it was I had barely made it through due to its level of difficulty.
There was approximately a 400 foot drop from the cliff onto a ledge, then another 300 feet after that. If I fell, God knows if I would ever be found.
It was then I realized, “Man, I’m actually in a pretty bad situation right now.”
I stood upon the jagged cliff of Utah’s Mount Superior—11,000 feet above sea level—it was humbling.
I had chosen the more adventurous route of climbing directly up the peak where there wasn’t a trail. I had already hiked up waterfalls and scrambled over miles of massive boulders–and all without a rope. Now, I was here and regretting it.
After weighing all my options, I decided to attempt to get off the ledge the same way I had gotten onto it. It was risky, but doable. I stretched my legs onto microscopic footholds and despite my knees shaking in fear, I made it back to safety.
Some tricky climbing still lay ahead but at least I knew I wasn’t going die on that ledge. I took a deep breath. I felt both relieved and intensely alive. I laughed and whooped victoriously.
This was the pinnacle moment of the journey.
Later while reflecting on the adventure, I realized I wanted to pass along some key lessons that I had learned. Lessons about pushing our limits further than we ever imagined and feeling more alive than we ever knew possible.
The Need to Feel Alive
There’s a popular song by Junip that paints the picture well: “Step in front of a runaway train, just to feel alive again.”
Obviously, we don’t need to go to those lengths. The point is this, we need to engage in more experiences that make us feel alive.
There are healthy and unhealthy things that make us feel more alive. An example of unhealthy would be drugs. Drugs are an easy way to feel alive for a short period of time, but have unhealthy side effects that can leave us feeling just the opposite. Another example is, according to Esther Perel’s popular TED talk, the number one reason that people are reported to have had affairs in marriage is because they wanted to feel more alive.
Doing healthy activities that make us feel alive may not be as difficult as we think.
When we push ourselves, we feel alive. This oftentimes takes us out of our comfort zone. While it might feel painful in the moment, these situations create positive effects both during and after the activity.
An example of this is doing something that takes you out of your norm, your comfort zone. Perhaps it’s giving a public speech, skiing, recording a song, writing a book, participating in your first marathon or traveling to India. There are a myriad of options to choose from. The point is to make it meaningful to you.
Stretch to the Next Level
I once had a friend tell me, “Do what you feel is a natural push for you, then stretch up one more level or octave.” That advice has served me well. As humans we are almost always able to do more than we think.
The day I summited Mt. Superior was amazing. I felt exhilarated. Yet, in order to take it up a notch I ran it again the next day in the reverse direction, and summited. While exhausting, it proved to be an invaluable lesson in what the body is capable of accomplishing.
When we stretch ourselves to that next level, we gain confidence to try this in other areas of our lives as well. Momentum creates momentum, and it pours over into all aspects of our life—work, family and relationships.
Let’s set our sights on something that we want, then stretch one level up from there. This allows us to feel even more confident and alive.
Try New Things
Are you, like myself, guilty of getting a little too comfortable in your routine? Perhaps it’s time to mix it up. It doesn’t take that much to do. Start small and before you know it, you’re going big.
Maybe it’s dating a different type of person who you normally wouldn’t go out with, or maybe it’s signing up for a salsa dancing class that you never before would have considered.
What have you been wanting to try but have been putting off? When have you said, “I’d definitely like to do that someday.”
Tomorrow is no guarantee, so we must live now.
Meditation is something I’ve only been doing consistently for about three years, yet its effects have been outstanding. Something about slowing down, breathing, and being in the moment without distraction is perhaps the most effective way to feel alive.
Notice the moment for what it is–the colors, the smells, the textures, the pain, the beauty–all of it. Imperfection does not exist in the moment and it’s the most alive that we ever feel. Even 10 minutes of a mindful meditation practice a day can massively enhance our feeling of aliveness!
Maybe climbing dangerous mountains isn’t your thing, find out something healthy to make you stretch and feel alive. You’ll increase your sense of confidence, kill boredom, create abundant energy and most important, feel much happier and fulfilled as a human being.
Now go out there and seize the day!
Author: Brock Cannon
Apprentice Editor: Melanie Jackson; Editor: Catherine Monkman