In Xela, Guatemala, where I’ve been living for the past six weeks, a local trekking organization leads a full moon hike where you sit atop a volcano and watch the sun rise over the surrounding volcanoes. I missed the first one and knew I’d really regret it if I missed the second one.
So, last night I got to the Quetzaltrekkers office around 11:00 pm. One of the guides took me into the supply room and pulled a sleeping bag, stuff sack, roll mat, fleece, rainproof jacket, and pants for me.
I got the sleeping bag in the stuff sack and started to put everything in the bag. Physics was against me on this one. No way on earth all of that was going to fit into my pack. And so, off I went to find some one who might have a solution. One guide got another and they joined forces to wrestle the sleeping bag and pack into submission, while I went off to change from my jeans (“If we get rained on, those are going to be really uncomfortable”) into hot pink pants that made wooshing sounds when I walked.
After we had all gotten ourselves arranged and sorted, our ride arrived. The fifteen of us climbed into a pick up truck with a frame around the bed so we could stand without falling out, loading most of our packs into another frame on top of the cab. The beauty of the ride is difficult to describe, volcanoes and cornfields shrouded in mist, under the light of a full moon.
We jumped out of the pickup bed and reclaimed our packs. Our guides formally introduced themselves and gave us the rundown on how the night would go. This is what to do when you need to relieve yourself, this is what you do if you start to feel sick, this is how long each part should take. And then we were off.
For about five minutes, and then I started getting winded. Again. I discussed my respiratory issues with a guide when I signed up and convinced us both that it would be fine. Sigh. When I started getting winded, I fell to the back and the last guide would stop and rest with me when I needed. We got far enough behind that the other guides kept signaling to check on us.
In the hike description, I had read that the first part of the hike was the easiest, and brought this up at one of the stops where I would catch my breath. Yep, it would only get harder.
Now, here’s the thing: I could have made it to the top, it just would have taken me about twice as long as everyone else. For me, the whole point was to summit the volcano and watch the sun rise over the tops of the other volcanoes. Getting to the top at nine in the morning felt kind of pointless, on top of exhausting. So, I made a choice. I chose to go back to town, back to bed, to find a respiratory specialist, start walking more and try again later. It may be a different volcano or I may come back, but I’m not done.
Earlier this week I read a post by Johnny B. Truant, Choose to be outstanding (or choose to continue to suck), and in it he tackles the word “can’t”. I kind of hate the word “can’t”, and I only use it in reference to the physically impossible.
I can’t levitate.
I don’t speak French.
As far as I know, it is physically impossible for me to levitate. I could learn French if I wanted to, I just haven’t.
I can get a group together, start exceptionally early and climb that volcano. I doubt I will do it soon, I’d rather start with the specialist and daily conditioning. But, it’s my choice.
When I’m in a group of people and I don’t say anything to anyone, I’m choosing one level of discomfort over another. I could start talking to some one, it is physically possible. I know the discomfort of standing there alone not saying anything. The discomfort of introducing myself and starting a conversation, I’m less familiar with that and so the choice is more difficult. But ultimately it is my choice.
When I know I’m going to be in a situation where I’ll need to reach out and meet people, I can choose to prepare. I can also choose to leave early if I need to. I can also choose to attend with a friend who may act as a buffer, we’ll get into the details on this in another post.
In the comments:
What choices have you made recently that pushed your comfort zone a little bit, what can you do to prepare for next time? Thanks for sharing with us.
We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud.What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)