FAIL- First Attempt in Learning
Not so long ago I decided to set myself a challenge. The challenge was hiking 27km of the Connemara mountain range of the Twelve Bens in 10-12 hours. I signed up with great enthusiasm, as I made the decision, I was well aware that I had no preparation done no fitness level, I was starting from scratch, this did not deter me for one second.
It was with great anticipation for the hike the bag was packed, food and water at the ready, suitably attired for the ever-changing weather I was prepared, I arrived at the designated location to check in, Cars were strategically placed along the selected route, adrenaline and optimism was available in abundance and we were all ready for the off.
As we all began to scamper up these beautiful hills, it soon became apparent to me that I might have been a little too optimistic and my fitness levels were worse than I thought.
I very quickly began to lag behind what appeared to be experienced hill walkers or other equally fit outdoor enthusiasts. As the pace was set and the rapid incline of the mountain went into straight ascent, my body very quickly objected to the fast movement and rapid incline, after months of no requests of anything strenuous on my body at all, my body screamed at me as if to say what are you doing. This is nuts, You are so unprepared for this and you shouldn’t have had that coffee before you set out this morning. I would love to say I spend ages focusing on what I shouldn’t have done, But I didn’t my main focus was on my breath, lifting the legs and keep moving. Sounds simple right!!!!
Believe me it was wasn’t, All simple tasks became quiet difficult at that moment in time. As I was pushing myself on, some where during the incline I began to feel a bit oxygen deprived, the world around me became a little muted as I struggled to get my breath back.
I would love to say that it was only a difficult start to what promised to be an amazing day up on the mountains with amazing views and vistas and a sense of elation with every mountain climbed and over come, but it was not to be. I was told I was crazy for doing this challenge in the first place, but sitting on the side of the mountain I realized I may be crazy but I m not stupid. I know when I have been beat and as stubborn as I am and can be, there was a great learning on the hill that day as it was the first time I had set myself a challenge that I had opted out from. Oddly I wasn’t disappointed rather strangely elated that I didn’t inflect torture and an unpleasant experience on myself when I know the beauty of the mountains will be there for me to enjoy again at my own pace that is not dictated by a group. I mean I am proud of myself for calling quits and happy to let the others walk ahead.
On the way down I had the mountains to myself to watch the slow rays of sun break through the clouds in the morning breaking dusk to-day. I could hear sheep bleating in the background and a farmer whistling directions to his sheep dogs as they were be rounded up. A few horses whining softly, the sound floated up the hills too me as they stood grazing, I could hear the sounds of a far off waterfall and was more aware of the gentle breeze that was flowing all around me. It was with welcomed relief that my heart rate returned to normal and my senses was open and very much alert to all that was surrounding me. None of which I was aware on the upward journey.
There was a sense of calm and peace as I made my descent, I am grateful for my Failed attempt as I would have missed the magic of what was around me if I kept going.
The views that has opened up in front of me was a rainbow of delight bringing colour, clarity and calmness, So yes while I didn’t get to the top of the first mountain I got to learn and feel so much more. I learned where my limits was, that it was ok to bow out of a situation, preparation is key, and sometimes going at your own pace brings you a whole new sense of wonder and surprises. This was just as relevant to walking the hill that day as it is to everyday living. Sometimes you may need to opt out of routine to see the bigger pictures, and in rushing about we often miss what is right in front of us. By trying to keep up with others we often lose track of ourselves and what we can do.
I know I will be back to hike the hills and next time I will be better prepared. I will walk and see and embrace all the mountains have to offer and I will enjoy every minute of the experience.