The hike was about 3 hours up. We started at the base of a mountain, found a trail, and started walking. We walked and walked until we finally saw the real summit, not one of dozen or so false summits that crushed our enthusiasm in the many meters prior.
At the top of the mountain I peered over the edge to a vertical drop of a few hundred feet. My balance was horrible. I felt dizzy even, being so close to death. Then I looked to my left and saw a little ledge that you can walk across. The drop, rather than being on one side, was on both. The ledge was two to three feet wide, but at the end of it was a nice little perch where you could sit and feel as though you’re on top of everything. There wasn’t any obstruction, just a majestic view of the Rocky Mountains as far as you can see.
The fear of bodily harm told me I couldn’t dare take that walk. But the understanding that life is found on the other side of fear pushed me to stand up and take steps.
The view and the feeling of being on top of a mountain made that brief uncertainty where butterflies make it hard to breathe, worth it.
There are other times where I’ve been a pussy, where I haven’t pushed myself far enough because I didn’t want to get injured. Actually, there are plenty of those times. And what do I have to show for them? Nothing.
The scars I have tell a story and provide a memory far more potent than any picture could tell. They’re proof of life than a scarless human doesn’t have. They’re adventures. Scars and broken bones show a man after more than we he currently is or what he can currently do.
If you have no scars nor broken bones, you’re not living hard enough.
RUN, DON’T WALK
When we think of a hard life we think of a drunk, a life that happened to someone, one filled with tragedy and ideally eventually triumph. We don’t think of a man riddled with broken bones and scars who got them because he pushed himself to acquire them as having lived a hard life.
Injury and near death experience doesn’t merit a hard life because we can see that this is life. Life is pushed. It isn’t waited for. It’s chased and hunted. It’s found on the edge, on the ledge, in doing something you’ve never done, something that pushes both your mental mettle and your physical ability.
Death is what many of us fear most. It’s illogical to fear because it’s inevitable. We all die so to fear something that happens to everyone makes no sense. But we do it anyway.
The cousin of death is injury. Injury or the potential of getting injured stops many a man in his tracks because of the unwanted pain or the time off that injuries inevitably leave us with.
Think about that.
We don’t want to have to take time off, nor spend time in the hospital, so our response is to not do that thing we deep down want to do but can’t do because we may get injured.
We spend all of our time practicing and dreaming and training and we never fully commit because we’re scared.
That thing, no matter what it is, be it a mountain, hiking, hunting, coming face-to-face with a wild animal or a dangerous human in a dark ally, is life. When we avoid things because we don’t want to get injured we don’t avoid injury, we acquire injury to our idea of what living is.
Scars aren’t necessarily a sign of being careless or drunk or angry. Ask anyone you know whom you see as having lived an adventurous life, and odds are they have a laundry list of injuries and scars that will tell the story of their life.
DO WHAT SCARES YOU
Do what scares you. This is what you think is life, living. Allowing harm or pain or potential injury to stop you from living the life you think is ‘the life’, is allowing fear to stand in the way of meaning and purpose and ambition, things you cannot possibly get if you’re relegated to the safety of a life you know you can survive without much effort.
Those who not only face their fears but chase those bastards down are the ones who will live. They’ll lie on their death bed without a heart filled with regret, instead with a mind filled with stories, proof that they ‘got it’, that they saw the danger in allowing fear to run a life is far greater than facing fears head on.
If you let fear stop you, you won’t live, you won’t succeed, you won’t feel as though you’re alive. How is that not the most dangerous course to take?
About The Author
Chad Howse: Chad’s mission is to get you in the arena, ‘marred by the dust and sweat and blood’, to help you set and achieve audacious goals in the face of fear, and not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live.