This is How It’s Supposed to Feel

I remember the start of “summit day” on my first big mountain. It was biting cold and the wind whipped my face like a razor. I was tired; I was stiff. We were up at 2 a.m. and climbing by 3. Starting early is essential. It’s easier to climb and descend when the snow is firm, before the sun has softened it, and it’s safer because avalanches are less likely.

As we gained altitude — 17,000, 18,000, 19,000, 20,000 feet — my lungs gasped at the oxygen-depleted air, my pace slowed, and my leg muscles seared, the burn of fatigue.

Then the mind-games, the mental conversations. “This is harder than I thought. Why not stop? Just go back. I don’t have to do this.” But I kept pushing on, not liking it, still questioning why I was doing it, and eventually I summitted.

While descending and reflecting on the climb, I had a flash of insight. An insight that’s served me through challenges of all types ever since. This is how it’s supposed to feel. To reach the summit of a big mountain, you’re supposed to feel tired, sore, uncomfortable. You’re supposed to not like it at times. You’re supposed to question why you’re doing it and even if you should do it. The doubts, the fatigue, the difficulty — that’s how it’s supposed to feel.

Since then, whenever I’ve climbed a mountain, I’ve anticipated how it’s going to feel and what I’m going to think. Yes, this is what it feels like to climb a big mountain. This is how it’s supposed to feel.

We’re now living in a challenging time. People are anxious about their jobs, their finances, their kid’s schooling, and the multiple uncertainties surrounding the surging virus, the prospect of a vaccine, and its availability and safety. We don’t like the current situation, we can’t get out of it, and we can’t make it end any faster. It doesn’t matter. Accept it. This is how it’s supposed to feel.

Embrace reality, the uncomfortable as well as the comfortable. Keep faith in the future while coming to grips with the present. At some point, there will be a vaccine, we will emerge from our social hibernation, businesses will thrive, and we will embrace our friends and loved ones.

In the meantime, this is how it’s supposed to feel.

Make it happen.


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