If we want to keep growing we have to do uncomfortable things. | Preparing to climb Ben Lomond (mountain) tomorrow.
We are currently in Queenstown, New Zealand. We came to do a new parkrun (which we did this morning) and climb one very big mountain ("big" for two Aussies, that is!).
If you've not been to Queenstown, when you stand with your back to main shopping area and look out at Lake Wakatipu it looks like this 👇
Amazing, right?! It's ridiculously gorgeous 🤩
But, back to the point of this post: getting uncomfortable in order to continue growing as a human being.
Gosh it's easy to just do the easy things!!! We're surrounded by people who are dressed in shiny new down jackets that look like they just walked out of a high end store. We pass people licking ice creams (yes, ice creams, when it's 4'C overnight and doesn't even reach 20'C during this, the beginning of summer). We see people line up for their Fergburger (a meal at a store with a cult-like following here) drinking their diet colas while they wait.
I'm making assumptions about all these people, of course, but the people I find myself drawn to are the hikers with packs that look worn and legs that still have dirt marks from the place they've just arrived from. I find myself staring at the guy with strong legs and bare feet, walking his dog around town with half the number of layers I'm wearing. I'm inspired by the pair riding their (non-motorised, total normal) bicycles up the hill, working their asses off to get from A to B.
It's fair to say I like doing hard stuff. Lucky for me, my partner, Brad (@new.things) does as well. And that's why we're climbing up Ben Lomond, a massive peak close to town, starting as early as I can manage tomorrow morning.
The hike starts by going UP that hill!
Queenstown has an elevation of 310 metres. The top of Ben Lomond is 1740 metres.
It's only about 8km of horizontal distance to cover to get to the top. But over those 8km we need to climb up 1430 metres.
1430 metres. That's a fcking lot!*
Brad and I think this will be the biggest single mountain climb we've ever done in our lives. Even though both of us have hiked up higher mountains over the years, we always started from a higher spot, thus, less elevation gain.
And it won't be just the up that will be hard; my experience doing trail ultra marathons reminds me that the down is often harder.
While the uphill is hard on the lungs and legs, the downhill is really hard on tired legs, achy joints and can be tricky from a balance perspective. It's also way scarier to go down technical trails then up.
And it's going to be cold. The wind chill, at 6am, on the top, is forecast to be -2'C.
So we've been strategically packing layers, more layers, clever layers and lots of food!
Why would we subject ourselves to below freezing temperatures to hike up an insanely steep hill while many others will be simply drinking their coffees, eating their burgers and taking a boat ride on this pretty nearby lake?
Because we can.
Because we learn a lot about ourselves by doing hard things.
And because this is how we grow.
I have been watching people over my entire lifetime. I am a keen observer of human behaviour. And here's what I've noticed:
I have watched the people who prioritise comfort as their default and seen their lives and capacity and resilience shrink.
And I've watched others who, like me, allow themselves to seek discomfort, who do hard things, who bite off more than they're genuinely sure they can chew, and our lives expand.
Everytime I live through something challenging, whether it's something self-created or not, and I have the time and space to integrate the things I learned my life always improves.
I improve as a person.
And that's what I'm after. How 'bout you?