Testing Your Limits
The movie Farther Than the Eye Can See tells the story of a blind man named Erick Weihenmayer and his successful summit of Mount Everest. As with most movies, this one had its share of platitudes about overcoming the obstacles that life throws at you. But the clichés were more than offset by the amazing cinematography and the incredible courage of Erik and his team.
What impressed me the most about Erik was his modesty and optimism. As humbly as he knew how, he was going to conquest Mount Everest. I have always been a soul that seeks adventure, driven by some unexplained urge to challenge the parameters of my world and to overcome past tragedies, including my parents’ divorce when I was three. I suppose my attitude toward mountain climbing is the same attitude I had toward surfing big waves when I was younger. You must learn to face danger and to be responsible for yourself. Everything in mountaineering is ultimately your decision. When I come back home from a climb or from a 5K, I feel totally renewed as a human being – stronger and more capable of facing life’s unpredictable terms. By climbing the Alps this summer I hoped to inspire my children and grandchildren to take a closer look at their own lives and to consider whether God might still have some dreams for them to live.
Each person faces a choice in life. When we face grief or loss, we can quit or we can have the courage to persevere, even if in the end we fail to reach our goals. In Erik’s story I found inspiration to continue to test my own limits. If we never test our limits, we will never know what they are. I would like to believe that the roads in life we choose depend less on external circumstances and more on internal longings that compel us as humans to reach the heights of whatever mountains we are facing in life. Successful people take what they have and make something of it. But you can’t be passive. You have to grasp the opportunities as they come along and, through hard work, stir up that tiny ember that burns within you.
I realize that the battle to become a mountaineer is won or lost through my weekly training program – those unglamorous times in the morning when you don’t want to get out of your warm bed to participate in a 5K or work out at the gym. It’s just another one of the universe’s hidden truths: without training, there can be no success. Tentative doesn’t cut it. When I climbed the Klettersteig in the Alps this summer, I went for it 100 percent. Total commitment. All in. Heart and soul. So I’m learning to embrace the hard work of preparation. Without it, there can be no meaningful achievement.
If anything, Erik’s story is a reminder that summits in life don’t come easy. You have to be willing to go through pain to reach your goal. As Erik proves, never underestimate the power of perseverance. Pick your goals carefully, think clearly about it – then act decisively, suppressing your fears. I see these qualities in Erik and, to a much lesser degree, in my own soul. But the more I do with the little I have, the more opportunities will gravitate towards me.
July 30, 2016
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.