“Alpinism is the art of suffering” – Wojciech Kurtyka
These words were said by the famed mountaineer and alpinist who scaled some giant peaks in the 70s. To say that he was a “hardman” would be an understatement. Mountaineers and hikers are well known for their ability to step out of their comfort zone.
Have you ever thought about what you want from life? I am sure, that you may have given this fundamental question some thought at some point in your life. As far as I can tell, no one wants suffering and everyone wants to be happy. So why should we willingly go to the mountains and suffer?
Now, you may say, “Well actually I do not suffer, I thoroughly enjoy myself”. And that is very likely true. However, each hike may have difficult aspects. The challenge to climb steep hills, carrying a pack, sweating in the heat, getting bit by mosquitoes or bothered by flies, can sometimes feel like a bit of a PITA (to use a technical term).
However, it is absolutely imperative that we do this. It is necessary that we put ourselves out of our comfort zones. It is necessary to suffer in order to be happy.
I would like to ask you to do a small exercise right now: Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Count a in and out breaths, say upto 20 and clear your mind a bit. In your mind’s eye, visualize a time in the past when you did something challenging voluntarily or were put in a challenging situation which was out of your control. Recall the pain during that time and then recall the feeling you got after that situation was over. Did you feel a sense of accomplishment? Of ease? Of growth? If so, then you know the value of going out your comfort zone.
Sometimes, lethargy or inertia or resistance sets in and I do not want to go for a hike. It is too cold, or there is a bit of rain or I have no energy or I will do it another day “when I feel like it”. But that may not be the right attitude. I need to just go and do it. That is stepping out of my comfort zone. More then likely, I will feel better after having done it.
That peak there looks too steep…too far away. It is going to be a slog getting up there. But I must do it anyway. Why? Because of the feeling I will get after having accomplished my goal.
I would like to learn something new – maybe about gear or navigation or weather or route-finding or whatever. But it seems difficult. I must do it anyway…. Why? So I can be safe in the mountains. So I can help others. So I can learn and grow.
So, find situations that get you out of your comfort zone. Put yourself voluntarily in those situations (The ones out of our control will happen anyway ;-)).
Write in the comments below and tell me some of your stories.