I came around the corner expecting to find a plateau to rest on. There was a small indent in the hillside and I got to sit and rest. I was revelling in the breathtaking view of the vast rolling hills of a small county in Scotland. My hiking buddy and local expert attempted to sit on the grassy slope but slid down the side of the steep hill. The grass is slick and I had underestimated the climb. After our brief break we are motivated to resume climbing.
As we maneuver up the hill we realise that the path we had taken was created by sheep and was not a valid hiking track. The climb had become trickier. I had said to my hiking buddy that I thought we should turn back. As I turned to look over my shoulder, I saw glossy grass without a clear path to descend. I had a flashback of my fellow hiker’s earlier slide down the hill and realised that going “back” was going to be more treacherous than going up the hillside. As we forged ahead we suddenly came upon a well-trodden path. My guide recognises the “big rock" and we celebrate our victorious landing with a long drink. We unpacked and ate badly bruised bananas as we took pictures of the most incredible view, thrilled that we had made the decision not to go back. I was grateful that we kept advancing in spite of my initial nervousness.
This is so often true of life particularly when we find ourselves in unfamiliar terrain. It is easy to become disoriented and allow fear to cause us to retreat. There is danger in withdrawing. Fear can cause you to lose ground that you have already gained through great effort. It can create the illusion of barriers and lie to you about the lack of your capacity and ability. This results in increased self-doubt. Facing your fear and daring to advance into the unknown brings with it incredible rewards.
For my friend and I, we found ourselves the beneficiaries of the most awe-inspiring panorama and the most delicious mountain air. In addition, as we travelled further we found ourselves descending to the last bench of the hike. This was an unexpected bonus. The rest of the hike was effortless. Somehow our unforeseen detour had set us on a trajectory that shot us way past our goal and allowed us to climb down to the last bench (goal), to rest and languish in our accomplishment. I came to realise that this challenging climb had actually led us to our goal. We did not have to fight for it we just had to trust the climb and the gift of the challenge was the final bench.