I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN
Often I love the idea of a concept more than the experience of it. Two weeks ago I read this phrase -
I will not be shaken.
Somewhere deep within the places of my heart, a torch was lit and by its light I rested within its warmth. Yes. I want that. I want to be someone who is not shaken. I want to be resolute. Little did I know that a few days later, just over a week before I would be climbing my first 14,000 ft mountain, I was hit with the worse food poisoning I have ever had.
For 24 hours straight I did nothing but get sick to my stomach. My body could keep nothing down. I couldn’t eat for three days, and it took over a week just to regain my strength to walk around without getting extremely dizzy.
The whole time I kept thinking of that phrase that had now become more than just a concept...a reality.
I will not be shaken.
By the time I had recovered, I was on a plane to Kansas City where I would join my brother and two other men on a trip to Buena Vista, Colorado. We embarked to ascend Mt. Harvard, one of the 56 peaks above 14,000 ft, 3rd highest in Colorado.
Not only was I climbing my first mountain, but I was going on my first backpacking trip to get there, a three day trip where I would carry everything I needed on my back. I was nervous how I would do coming from being so sick I could barely walk, let alone an extreme altitude difference from back home.
What followed was an incredible adventure that tested my mind, body and spirit. After hiking in 3 miles where we set up base camp in the basin below the peak, we set out early the next morning for the peak. In 4 miles we hiked 4,000 ft. Basically it felt like a sheer vertical hike. Despite everything I had gone through, I climbed that mountain without faltering. I never once wavered, but I made it to that peak, and there I stood holding high, a flag I had hand sewn for the occasion. Upon that flag was written “Edge of Tomorrow.”
It’s easy to think about doing something. It’s hard, even painful to do something about it. What struck me was how this entire adventure that ended with me atop a mountain peak, all started with someone saying yes. This trip was planned almost a year ago. A lot went into making it happen; planning, prepping, buying equipment, flying, driving 14 hours, hiking 14 miles, carrying your own weight, pushing yourself physically. All these elements had to come into play - in other words it cost me something. That peak means nothing to you unless you’ve felt your lungs burn and legs crumble, unless you’ve spent time and money to get there. What I noticed is that when reflecting on our trip, we spent the smallest amount of time actually talking about being at the peak. You would think we would talk the most about the mountain top experience.
What I found instead is we spent all our time telling of everything that happened and took to get there. The funny stories, the hard moments, the sacred moments, these are what we remember most.
My brother so eloquently reflected that it’s not the mountain top experiences that shape us, those will be highs in our life, but it’s the preparation and the work it takes to get to the top that we will remember and will spend the majority of our time doing. In our very toil to get to the top of that rock, we discover what we are made of. I did. You can tell a lot by a man’s character by the suffering and hardship he goes through. I saw the men around me come alive when faced with their weakness. I saw myself pushed deeper and farther when faced with my own weakness.
When I read those words, “I will not be shaken,” I had no idea what I was about to face. I now can say that I have said yes, I have put skin and blood in the game, and in the face of fear and failure I have stood atop a mountain and proclaimed, “I will not be shaken.”
It’s time you said yes.
P.S I've attached a handy info graphic I made to help you climb your own mountain.