This past Memorial day weekend I made a last minute decision to go camping in the desert of Joshua Tree National Park with a group of friends.
Yes, I slept on the ground. No, there wasn’t a flushing toilet. Yes, I stargazed. No, I wasn’t a huge fan of the very loud bugs. But yes, I’m so glad I went. And, I can’t wait to go back.
This particular season of my life has been harder than most. I’ve felt pretty lost in my marriage, facing challenges with infertility, have been lacking a sense of peace, and struggling with the feeling of being overwhelmed. With all of that, I’ve been yearning for a different experience, and looking for something to take myself out of the my normal routine. I’ve been in search of an “ah ha” moment. And this was it.
My friend Cait asked me if I wanted to go for a hike around our campground when I arrived. I agreed, but was confused as she headed toward a boulder formation that had absolutely no trail to it. Just a bunch of boulders… higher and higher they went. Our hike was going to be climbing rocks. I got about 1 minute into it , watched Cait start to climb ahead of me, and said… “Um, I can’t do this.” Her simple response, “Yes, you can.”
I’m not going to lie. I stood there in front of this boulder, and thought: No Way. I’m not a 10 year old kid climbing trees anymore. (Yes, my first thought took me back to climbing Redwood Trees in this beautiful park back home where we’d get lost for hours playing in the branches.) I’m not prepared for this. I’m wearing old tennis shoes, not grippy hiking boots. I’m not strapped to anyone or anything. I repeat: I’m not prepared for this.
No way. I can’t do this. What if I fall? (This was prime time for self doubt. Hit me square in the face).
But then I thought >> Oh, but what if you don’t fall? What if you CAN do it?
And so I did.
I followed Cait’s steps up the rocks. Did my legs shake? Hell yeah they did.
Did my mouth get a little dry from being a little terrified? Absolutely.
Did I keep going? You bet.
When I reached the top, did I laugh at myself for freaking out? Oh yeah.
I enjoyed it so much that throughout our time there, I went “bouldering” a few more times. Even got tossed a beer from the ground level, sat back and enjoyed good conversation, an exquisite view, and a cold brew.
The next day, we took a trip into the Joshua Tree park and found even larger boulders and caves! We were in search of a cave called “Hall of Horrors”. Kinda perfect, huh?
Once we found that cave that you had to climb DOWN into… once again… my self doubt came into play. “No way. I can’t do that.” But then my friends reached out their hands (thank you, John and Kyle!) and helped me through it. No questions asked. Here is my hand. Take it. And go. Don’t think. Trust. Climb. Conquer. Enjoy.
This turned out to be my FAVORITE part of the experience. This cave is a long, narrow stretch of pathway in-between huge rocks. Maybe two people wide. And I’m claustrophobic! But I wasn’t in there. I felt a sense of accomplishment. It overcame any sort of fear I would typically endure. And that made all the difference.
So what’s the epiphany here? I literally had a rock standing in my way. I had the choice to let it stay there or climb over it. For me, that rock represented self doubt. I didn’t think I could do it. And then I did. I conquered it.
My hope for you, Aves, is that you know you can conquer any rock in your way. Even if that means grabbing the hands of people around you to make sure you can.