Dear Why Team member,
I hope this week’s message finds you well and living a remarkable life.
My latest speech is simply titled:
Live Your Best Life Ever.
To help inspire others to live their Best Life Ever.
By being a living example for others. By embracing adventure and facing my fears - being a source of encouragement to my children and to all those whom I am blessed to connect and interact.
To be given life, I believe, brings with it the responsibility to live as fully as possible and thus be a benefit to life.
What example are you living for others to follow and why? The theme I kept repeating to my good friend and guide Matt Walker throughout our most recent adventure was “Thank you for getting me out of the house”.
Where were we?
In the upper northwest near Seattle - on an Alpine Rock Climb.
Two Days I will never forget!
It got me out of the house - providing a significant change in my environment, beauty, magnificence, uniqueness, challenge, hardship, discomfort and even pain.
It was an ADVENTURE!!
A five-hour hike in with a heavy backpack through the woods and up the mountain. The beautiful environment providing distraction from the difficulty. Even walking on fallen trees to cross creeks at the foot of waterfalls. Huge old trees many feet in circumference reaching very high for the sun above the canopy. Wonderful exhaustion when reaching our camp site - standing high on the mountain taking in a spectacular view - one that was hard won.
Dinner out of a bag - freezed dried food, just add boiling water :-) Sleeping under the stars with no tent - first time ever for me - an adventure in itself. Hearing animals in the dark walking near my ears as I lay exposed on the ground is not optimal for rest and relaxation :-) Fun and relieving to see right next to me a little field mouse and not a bobcat :-).
Oh the mind and what it envisions! Thankfully the mosquitoes largely departed as the night became cooler.
What an incredible night - just one night of my life - a remarkable night - a night I will never forget.
How many of our days and nights have little to no impact on our experience of life?
How many are not worth a remark?
Are we being irresponsible to live this way?
There are countless interviews of those on their death beds sharing their regrets of how they wish they had lived more and feared less.
How many adventures delayed and never taken?
Time is always of the essence when we consider that tomorrow is promised to no one.
Just one night sleeping outside on the ground, outside of your comfort zone, with no tent, will cost you practically nothing but a bit of discomfort and anxiety - thus making it more likely you will never forget it.
The adventure may be the source of many a future story - providing perspectives previously missed and paying a memory dividend that may be priceless.
Hmm… just sleeping outside?
There is no doubt that many of our comforts are killing us.
At the very least killing our spirits.
Hear and heed this call to Adventure!!
How much of your precious life has already passed from memory?
What new adventures could you take to give you the experience of a lifetime?
I haven’t even gotten to our rock face climb as that night under the stars was alone incredible - it was remarkable - hence my remarks ;-)
We awoke a little after 5:00am - feeling more like 8:00am to me as I was fresh out of Cincinnati.
I joked with Matt that I occasionally heard a Moose in the night - referring to his blessedly brief moments of snoring. He missed out on hearing the animals walking around his head.
Notice I said he missed out ;-)
Leaving behind at our campsite the gear we didn’t need for our climb we headed for the rock face route called the Ragged Edge; aptly named since one of my favorite insights is that life begins at the edge of our comfort zone - apparently for this day it began at the Ragged Edge :-)
We had another hour long hike navigating to the other side of the mountain to find the route up to the peak. Had it not been for the previous ever increasingly difficult climbing experiences I have had with Matt - not to mention my ever increasing confidence in him - this climb would likely not have been possible for me. More than the actual difficulty - and there certainly were moments where toe and finger holds were particularly challenging - it was the scale and the magnitude of the mountain and the surroundings that made the experience particularly grand and intimidating.
Not only did we have a climb that was over a 1,000 feet up a rock face that was already thousands of feet high, we had the joy of then hiking all the way back to our car after the climb.
Did I say joy?
Interesting how some sweet memories can come at a bitter cost.
Of course, I’m sure you can imagine how important it is to not rush your way up a rock face :-)
Being fully present and very self-disciplined is optimal to success. Sound familiar?
No matter the stresses from the day before or those that lie ahead - it is very important to fully attend to the current moment, the challenges literally at hand. Matt and I fully depended on each other to get to the top.
The road less traveled brings added experience, growth, insight and often remarkable memories to last a lifetime. How many people would willingly sleep outside on the ground with no tent - just for the experience? Especially when a perfectly good bed indoors with air conditioning is readily available?
After reaching the summit and being glad we were not repelling down, but rather hiking down - we hiked back to our campsite, packed up, and began our five hour descent.
Now, I try to train a bit every day, but five hours up-hill one day and then the next day a very intense rock face climb followed by five more hours hiking down hill…. well, you might ask why did it take me just as long to go down hill as it did up hill?
You wouldn’t be asking if you have ever done it. My legs were completely toast the last couple hours back to the car. Fortunately, I had climbing poles that became more useful as canes :-)
I looked pitiful.
I got to where I had to lock my legs straight every few steps because my squads were so fried, I could no longer sustain even the slightest prolonged bend in my knees.
Funny how I did not notice so many rocks and roots the day before :-).
I quickly developed great empathy for the very old and in-firmed who struggle to walk.
Empathy via hardship!
When was the last time you so thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed sitting down in a car?
I’m reminded of one of my favorite observations: only those who know hard work can truly enjoy leisure. Not to mention the incredibly delicious pizza we soon consumed. Which would have meant very little were we not eating from a bag the night before.
At this writing, I am sitting on my flight home. It’s Sunday and I just left home Thursday night. In only two days, I had the adventure of a lifetime. While I am grateful to have the ability to pay for the flights and hire the guide - the greatest price was no doubt the labor and hardship necessary for it all to come to fruition. Isn’t it the very hardships and anxieties that most emblazon experience onto our memories? The experiences on which we remark on the rest of our lives?
Today, I can barely walk, but I’m flying - and I’m not referring to the plane.
For example, how many weddings are planned to perfection, but in the end, it was all the very mistakes - all that went sideways - that made the night most memorable?!
So did it go sideways or right-ways?
Who enjoys hearing a story where everything went as planned?
We don’t even tell those stories.
They disappear from our memories because they are “unremarkable”.
They do not serve us or anyone else in the telling - thus they are not worthy of a remark.
Who wants to live a story not worthy of telling?
We do not need to fly across the country for adventure that is available in our own back yard.
How many more unremarkable days are we going to live? The operative word being “unremarkable” - days we will likely never reflect and remark on?
Consider one significant adventure a year to mark your year - to make that year “remarkable”!
There have been many remarkable years in my life, the year I moved from Florida to Chicago, the year I got married, the years my children were born, the year my mother passed and the growth that came out of it. But I have also lived some unremarkable months and years. I’ve certainly done a lot of fun things and have many pictures, but it wasn’t until I started climbing, choosing significant challenges, facing big fears, that I could mark the years with a specific adventure. I now have all the following remarkable experiences to access off the top of my head - starting at age 53:
2016 First Rock Face Red Rocks
2017 First Glacier Mt. Baker
2018 Maachu Picchu & Kilimanjaro
2019 Climbed Glacier Mt. Daniel
2020 Joshua Tree National Park
2021 LaMalinche & IXTA Mexico
2022 Tombstone Rock Joshua Tree
2023 Potrero Chico Mexico and now to add to this remarkable year:
The Ragged Edge
Never before have I lived a life when my years were made so remarkable.
I want this experience for you.
While I believe the business of life is to live in service to others, it is the very investment in, and the acquisition of, our experiences and memories, that empower us to be of more service to others.
Adventure is less a choice and more-so a responsibility.
If you have not yet had an adventure to mark this year of your life - a “remarkable” experience of a lifetime - then I highly encourage you to plan it, book it and do it! The return on your investment will be priceless!
Life begins at the edge of our comfort zone -
a life that is memorable -
a life that inspires others -
a life that is remarkable!
Make it a great week!