The B-Blog: “How To Ignite Your Life and Be a Natural Born Hero” – Sept, 2016
Last week I fulfilled a major Bucket List item.
If you haven’t heard of a Bucket List before, it’s a list of things you want to do, become, have, or visit before you “kick the bucket.” For someone who’s felt the warm breath of Death on her face from a near-death-experience in 2010, my Bucket List means a lot to me. I now know how frail the veil between life and death can be, so it’s imperative for me to live life as fully as possible.
My desire was to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (and hopefully up again!). This is a 10-mile hike, with an elevation gain of 4,460 feet (1,360 m). Five million people visit the Grand Canyon every year – but only 1% attempt this hike. Considering that the most I’d ever hiked in a day is 7 miles – which included both going up and down, and elevation gains of no more than 2,000 feet – this was a major feat for me to undertake.
I trained for a few weekends before departure (thank goodness). And I began reading Christopher McDougall’s book, Natural Born Heroes. You may know McDougall as the author of the ultra-inspiring book on running, Born To Run. (I’m not a runner AT ALL and it’s still one of my all-time fave books).
During the hike my mind drifted to the real-life heroes on Crete that McDougall brings to life in his book. These are bookish professors from England, gentle, thin poets, and self-described “loafers” that somehow signed up to capture and often defeat Nazis during WWII on Crete. In a short time, they were able to transform themselves from everyday humans, to indomitable forces: Heroes.
In my own way, by accomplishing my Bucket List entry, could I transform myself too?
What does it take to be a “hero”?
Mental, emotional, and physical strength all need to be tested, developed, and challenged. While hiking the Canyon, we passed fit and muscular people with beet-red faces and tired, miserable eyes slogging up the trail because of dehydration (we offered some water). We saw a woman sitting, crying, desperate for it to be over. (We gave her 2 half-melted chocolates and encouragement).
You can be strong physically – but without the mental and emotional strength (and preparation), the Canyon can whoop yo’ ass.
When I mention this hike to folks, some say, “Oh, how I’d love to do that – but I could NEVER make it!”
Yes, they COULD. (Many of them anyway, with training). But a Mind Loop of “I could never make it” will stop people from even dreaming of feats beyond their current skill level – whether it’s hiking the Grand Canyon, or applying for a job in a different (more desired) profession, or dating again after a long lapse, or being an adult and learning how to ride a bicycle for the first time.
“I could never do that” is one of the most debilitating Mind Loops there is. It’s stops us before we can even dream – and we need our dreams, our imagination, to fire our passion enough that we’ll push ourselves out of our very comfortable comfort zones.
“What if I CAN?”
Whenever I hear myself saying, “I don’t think I can do that,” I remind myself:
“Well… wait a minute. What if I CAN?”
If my heart speeds up in excitement at the thought, or if the soft voice of my intuition pushes me towards it (even while my mind kicks and screams against it), my next question is:
“What is the first step I need to take toward fulfilling this?”
We never have to jump into anything quickly. We can train. That may come in the form of hiking increasingly strenuous trails (as in my case) – or it may mean checking out dating sites to start dating again, or requesting an informational interview with someone in a career you’re interested to switch into.
It took my companion and me 10 hours to hike down the Canyon. There was a thunder storm (a real threat in a canyon), wind gusts of over 35 mph (we were on a long suspension bridge over the Colorado River during several blasts), blisters (I had to duct tape my toes to keep the moleskin on), and a nasty spider bite that required a visit to the clinic later.
The way up? Just 7-1/2 hours! Placards in the park tell you to give the hike to the top twice as much time as it takes to get to the bottom – and for some bizarre reason, it took us less time. Why? I think because our inner “hero” had been triggered. We planned physically, emotionally, and mentally for the experience… And it all paid off, big-time.
That hike was one of the highlights of my life. I feel transformed. Stronger and more capable in every way. Deeply fulfilled.
“One step at a time” was my mantra whenever I was tired hiking back up the canyon. The same is true for any of our dreams.
What’s on YOUR Bucket List?
What ONE action step can you take TODAY toward making it a reality?
That’s your Experiment for this week. YOU have a hero inside of you. What does your hero want to experience or accomplish? It’s just waiting for you to light its fire.
Wishing you an invigorating, heroic week!