I didn’t climb Mount Everest this past weekend, but hiked a local mountain called Camelback. I am not a hiker, but have tried to embrace Arizona and all of the natural outdoor beauty it has to offer. On Friday morning, my husband says, “Let’s go hike Camelback.” My instinct was to stay home, drink some coffee, and do some writing, but my husband really wanted me to experience the spectacular views atop the mountain.
The rocks are jagged and the incline is steep on Camelback mountain. It doesn’t require ropes or pulleys, so there is nothing professional about the hike, but it is still considered strenuous. As I willed myself up the mountain, there were several times I wanted to stop and turn around. Breathe. Climb. Land. Start over. I must have done that a million of times. On the way up, I was consumed by getting back down. Every time I reached a a higher plane, I would ask my husband “How am I going to get down?” He kept telling me not to worry about it, but I couldn’t shake it.
Although the hike was meant to be a lesson in physical activity, for me it was an examination of my mental state. As I maneuvered my way down, I wouldn’t jump rock to rock, but I would sit down, place my arms on the jagged edges and then let my feet land. Not the most graceful way to hike down a mountain. People were passing me left and right and about halfway down, I do the unthinkable, tears start coming down my face.
The tears came for a few seconds and I wiped them away. After I gathered myself, my husband asked me, “Why on earth are you crying? What is it?” I thought for a moment. It didn’t come to me then, but it did later. I thrive on success. If something isn’t “successful” for me or if I am not good at something, I throw myself into defeat. I wallow in it. I automatically assume this activity isn’t meant to be. If I don’t do things perfectly, I equate it with failure.
And because of this need to be perfect, I wouldn’t let myself jump rock to rock. What if I slip? What if someone saw me fall? What if I lose my balance? By wanting to hike down perfectly, I was stealing moments away from the overall experience. I was sabotaging myself.
Three and half hours later, after finishing, my husband turns to me and says “See, you hiked the mountain. You don’t have to tell anyone HOW you did it.” But to me it does matter. I could have let go of my fears, my need for perfection, and hiked up and down the mountain with quiet grace. But I didn’t. I cried instead.