By Colton Smith
Nature has taught me a lot. Its lessons aren’t singular to the realm of the remote wilderness but can be applied to most aspects of life. We’ve all heard the clichés of “climbing a mountain” or looking at a task and declaring, “this is my Everest”. They may be clichés, but I’ve learned how true they can be.
I was an athlete growing up and to say that I’m a competitive person, well, it’s almost an understatement. In many ways my competitive nature is what drew me to nature, especially the mountains. After I started hiking I was addicted, not only to the majestic beauty of the towering granite peaks but more to the challenge. Looking up from the base of an 11,000-foot mountain, I knew that it wouldn’t be easy but that it could be done. It’s a challenge that became more fulfilling to me than sports. My new opponents are massive immovable landforms that I alone can beat. At the end of the day we’re not all mountain climbers, yet we all have our mountains that need to be conquered. There’s no lesson in nature that doesn’t hold true in our day-to-day lives. Climbing a mountain takes persistence; it takes hard work and courage.
These same traits embody themselves in another passion of mine, fitness. Even though I grew up an athlete, fitness was not always a priority for me. In fact, it was right when I started seeking out mountains to conquer that I discovered a love for exercising. Just like hiking a mountain, you always have to start at the bottom. It’s intimidating. You realize how much hard work it’s going to take, the things you’ll have to sacrifice and potential road bumps you’ll endure. In the beginning everything seems stacked up against you. Your body is symbolic to anything else in life. You alone possess the power to mold, shape and change it. The hard work part is obvious. It’s far from easy. You force yourself to stay dedicated day in and day out. You don’t see your results right away, but you stay focused on your goal.
We don’t decide what a mountain will throw at us. I’ve gone through ups and downs in fitness. I’ve had two reconstructive knee surgeries, shoulder surgeries, neck injections and a list of bumps and bruises that goes on for miles. They were my roadblocks. Roadblocks happen and we must meet them with self-realization and overcome them with persistence. After we ended season one of Rock The Park I had a moment of self-realization. Even with all the time I spent hiking, life on the road had set me back a bit. So I rededicated myself, focused on my goal and began working, harder than ever. I started to physically push myself to the point where my muscles couldn’t take anymore and sweat covered my body. Then I’d wake up and do it all over again. In three months I was down 12 pounds and in the best shape of my life.
We all have our own mountains. I acknowledge that fitness and climbing mountains may seem like hobbies rather than real challenges. It’s not these activities alone that have made me stronger. It’s taking the mentality they’ve taught me and translating it to even the tiniest of dilemmas. The mentality that no matter what, never quit. Paying a medical bill, paying rent or finding a new job might be your mountain. At first they seem daunting and we question how we are going to get past and reach our summit. We’ve all been at the bottom at some point. We can stay there if we choose or we can climb. It may take time but we can conquer our mountains.