Pretty major, right?
Here’s the thing: I really enjoy climbing. But I’m not by any means a really strong climber. I’d love to be climbing a grade or two higher than my current level, but given that I’m in my 50th year, and I started climbing well into my 40s, I’m probably not going to advance too much further–and at some point in the future, I’m sure just holding ground will be a major accomplishment.
I went out to Grandmother Mountain today after work. It’s tucked away in thick woods, just past the far better known (and more easily photographed) Grandfather Mountain. It was our first trip out there, and it really is a great collection of boulders. But I started to get a little discouraged. I could make up a whole bunch of excuses for why I was struggling tonight (it’s different rock than I’m used to; they must sandbag their ratings up here; I probably need to adjust to the altitude a little longer; etc.), but the bottom line is this:
I am climbing at my level, whether I like it or not.
That doesn’t mean I can’t push myself to discover what that level really is. Nor does it mean that I can’t simply enjoy being outdoors and on the rock, regardless of how hard I am climbing. But today, as I let go of my discouragement and just climbed as I could, I managed to put what I was experiencing on the rock into a more meaningful context–let’s call it the wisdom of humility.
I have no shortage of character flaws and drawbacks, that’s for certain. But I also have my share of gifts. And if I can’t see myself as I am, right now, then what chance do I have of being anything but discouraged?
And of course, as the evening wore on and I let go of my self-imposed expectations, I found myself quite happy with my level of climbing. Sure, those other climbers wandering through the crag would call my big send of the evening a warm-up, but for me, it felt just right.
I often remind myself to be gentle with others. Sometimes I need a reminder to be gentle with the person that I am.