One word: Construction.
After four months of training, hiking, sweating, hurting and learning towards one goal, the journey up Mt. Defiance came to an abrupt halt.
Delayed construction at the trail head reversed the Oregon Department of Transportation’s decision to keep trail heads open on weekends. With no way to get going, five days before the goal, I had to cancel the big hike. Geez!!
Since then I have been thinking long and hard on the meaning of failure and on the nature of journey.
It’s hard for me to describe the intense disappointment I felt in the moment when the cancellation of the anticipated goal exerted itself in my awareness. I struggled and I know several moments went by as I tried several times to walk it back. This can’t be true, I thought. I’ve come so far. I’ve worked so hard. No, it can’t be! But. It was!
Now, I can hear you say, Cheryl, there will be another time. True. It might even be possible that fortune will align itself before the hiking season shifts this year. True. Mt. Defiance is not a foul-weather friendly hike. True. Plus there is always next year. True. Possibility is open and available in an undefined future. True. Just not now!
And as I have thought about my journey which I named Defiance to Failure, the deeper layers of possibility of this name have made themselves known and helped me make my way around the spectre of failure this set of circumstances has presented.
- Failure – what is it? Not trying. Backing away without even a thought to the possibility of giving it a whirl. Failure isn’t in the not-doing as much as it is in the not-considering, in the not-giving-it-a-chance. Failure comes in the knee-jerk reaction of No, I can’t! Failure comes in demanding giant steps instead of seeing success possible in baby steps and in the asking self how and why?
- Destination and Goal: Intention gives motion direction. When I set out on a journey, the destination helps me pick my path. Yet, the road always meets the unexpected. And the goal helps determine how to deal with this unexpected. And though the journey begins because of the destination, when I encounter the crossroads of the unexpected, it is how I choose to go on which makes all the difference.
I believe the adage: Life is about the journey not the destination. My journey is full of reward and disappointment, full of opportunity and the possibility of defeat. Always. Life is journey filled with realized goals and thwarted attempts. And each moment of the journey offers choice: What Now? What do I choose now? This makes every moment a new beginning for the journey begun in the last moment, or yesterday, or on the day of my birth. Life is full and rich and wonderful because of the unexpected and the choices I make when standing at the crossroads trying to decide if I continue on or choose a new goal. Destination gets me going, journey is the experience, start and finish one and the same. It is always my choice of how and when to take the next step.
- DEFIANCE: To challenge the power of. I think about the event which began my Defiance to Failure: a hike which at first made me seriously question my physical ability. After several years of training to lose weight and improve my physical performance, I felt I had lost big ground. I was disappointed. And more importantly, I felt fear kick up its ugly head. But by the time I’d reached that mountain summit, I had pulled myself back from the cliff. I realized I was simply in this place now and I had choice about my next step, about my journey forward. And in that moment, I chose to defy fear. Fear, then and now, has no place in my life. Choosing Mt. Defiance was my way of not choosing fear. The mountain top became my jumping off point into an embrace of all of me. I challenged the power of fear and I won!
Thus at the end of July, construction created a crossroad, offering me choice about my next step. On July 30th, I climbed a mountain though not the one I had expected. Not Defiance. Instead Neahkanie, a beautiful peak on the Oregon coast. With a good friend who had also been Defiance-bound and had hiked with me often in the last four months. Together we enjoyed the beautiful forest and the gorgeous views.
Sitting on the mountain top, lost in wonderful conversation, taking in the sun, I knew instinctively that I had accomplished my goal. I was stronger, physically and spiritually. I had held my own and not allowed fear to deter me from challenge and opportunity. I learned that in my defiance I am powerful and in my willingness to fail I defy fear.
Also, I am not alone. The support along the way both within myself and from family and friends has been heart-lifting and brilliantly loving. Each moment of life is a crossroads brought by the unexpected. And at each crossroads, I trust myself to defy failure.
Related past articles:
To find more writing I have posted about my life experience, begin here: About Cheryl Marlene.