GROUP MEMBER #4
There's an old story about a hiker in the woods. The trail he chose in the first half of this hike was super light, and visited by most. The hiker was by himself and exploring new hikes on this day; so, oftentimes he would pass groups of people or he would pause to enjoy the views.
Later in the day, still full of light, after some of the more popular trails, the hiker chose a less visited path. This hike was nothing more extreme than the hiker had already experienced anywhere else in his travels, but in this specific location this was considered a harder hike. The first mile, there was NO ONE around, NO ONE in sight! The only thing you could see were trees, birds, mountains views, and the occasional boulder/obstacle to walk around. After about 20-30 minutes, the hiker saw the first sight of human life. Ironically, they were walking the opposite direction which was back to base. The solo hiker greets the group of 4 people and he's welcomed with this retort:
Group Member 1 : Hey there.
Group Member 2: Howdy!
Solo Hiker: Hello Hello
Group Member 3: *subtle 👋 and smile*
Group Member 4: Wow you sure are brave being out here on your own.
Solo Hiker: Ahhh, I’m just enjoying the views. I don't plan on doing anything too crazy
Group Member 4: Okay, but you have no clue what's out here.
Solo Hiker: *Jokingly says while passing*, What do you mean? That's what I have you all for.
Group Member 4: Okay, well, be safe!
Immediately after this, the hiker started to look at his watch in an attempt to track when the sun would set, listened for animals, looked to see if there were any humans coming around that he could tag along with, and most importantly, started noticing massive piles of animal poo.
Was this horse?
"I'm pretty sure there's a horse trail close".
"I mean, there's probably bears out here but it's daylight and people are around… well there were people at least."
Are there mountain lions out here?
“Crap, maybe she's not even talking about animals, what if I sprain my ankle or worse break a bone or something. I'm probably 3 miles from base at this point and have NO CLUE how far I am away from the next target I wanted to hit.”
Okay, don't think about the distance, you enjoyed the first mile and some change by yourself with no issues and no fear, you've been deployed to Syria for crying out loud, how are you going to be scared on a planned trail in the middle of the United States!?
Needless to say, I kept walking slower and slower, not because I was enjoying the views, but because I was questioning myself getting further and further and further away from everything I knew was "safe." I got to a point in the hike that I felt was almost off the path, I had heard every animal do its mating or hunting calls (who knows) and after much contemplation and questioning, I decided to stop and turn around. I'm sure you weren't expecting that ... me either. I took a second to sit and think, just in view of where I chose to turn around. I can't lie to you, I was scared, I knew I was letting FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) take over my heart rate. My belief and my pace of moving forward on something I knew deep down I could've and should've accomplished. You should've seen me when I first set out on this trail! There was not a worry in the WORLD. All it took was "Wow you sure are brave being out here on your own" to change the trajectory of my entire journey, day, and honestly my LIFE.
I cannot express how defeated I felt in the moment; but fear outweighed my defeat, probably for the first time in my life. Before that, I've always prided myself on doing things that others couldn’t, and more so things that I couldn't even imagine myself. I sat and I asked myself, “What's in front of me that I'm missing out on? If I don't do this, what happens? One of the most profound things I think I asked myself during that time I was sitting was " Why do I feel so comfortable turning around the SAME TRAIL that I didn't know or feel comfortable about JUST 30 minutes ago?" Going back I could've encountered every single fear that I was turning around for. Bears, lions, injury all could've got me on my way back and they were the same things I was afraid of going forward. Why not just continue going?
I think we should ask ourselves these questions in our lives more often. How often when choosing a career or something scary do you ask yourself? "What's so safe, comfortable, or fulfilling about what I'VE ALREADY BEEN DOING!?" Oftentimes, we stay at the same jobs that undervalue or underpay us, keep toxic friends, stay in the same houses we can't afford, and buy meaningless cars, all because it's "WHAT WE KNOW." When in reality, it's all a false illusion that it's safe. This isn't a challenge to you today because obviously, I need to finish that hike first; but just think, what happens when you go back? Are you actually safer? What are you missing out on?
I almost cried writing this because it took me back to the spot on the trail where I decided to turn around. I'm not telling you to put your life at risk, to not be safe, or to chase bears or anything like that. My hope is that you make sure that you live. You live out what your heart is naturally pulled in the direction of, not the limitations or pleasures of others. If I would've never met Group Member #4, I can guarantee I would've made it to the end. Don't let others chart your path in life. Instead of listening to others for action items, listen to others as guides. Looking back on that encounter, those words should have been a yield sign for me and I treated it like a stop sign.
I know some may say “Well maybe it’s a good thing you didn’t complete it, what if something really bad could’ve happened that they were trying to warn you about.” I agree obviously, but this is what solidified my grief. As I was sitting during the hike and looking back on the point in which I turned around, a runner came by. Yes… a runner… by himself. Running the path that I feared the most. Not only did I have to move out of his way because the path was narrow, (there’s another message in that) but I had to watch him run off into the distance where I hadn’t gone, because something tragic could’ve happened to me because I was…alone. The runner didn’t didn’t look super fit, he didn’t make the run look easy, you could tell he was hot, he wanted water, and his feet probably hurt. BUT... I bet the runner reached his target. How many times had he run that trail? 🤷🏽♂️ When he first charted out maybe he also was too scared. But the point being, the trail is the same, the perspective is not.
Don’t let the fear of you or others stop you from being free and finding happiness and accomplishment in your life, today, tomorrow or any day after. Think about this in the inverse. What can I gain from doing this? What feelings of accomplishment would I have? How would my confidence change after I face this fear?
"Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it."