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My Pledge

This is my pledge. I’ve been hiding my true feelings because I don’t like being out of my comfort zone. Yet it’s those moments where I truly grow and experience life. It’s those moments that I look back on and make my self proud. It’s all of those moments that make me ‘me’. I am not running away anymore. I may question what I’m doing but I must learn to know that I question things because they aren’t normal.

I dream of climbing the world’s largest mountains particularly Cho Oyu and Kangchenjunga. I pretend those are not my dreams so that I don’t have to risk my self by following them. But I can’t do it any more. I can’t fight my dreams. It’s what I simply must do to truly life my life. My life will not always be comfortable but at least I can look myself in the eyes and say ‘I gave it my all’ when it eventually comes to an end. So that’s it. No looking back from this point. It’s time to embrace adventure and live in the now.

2012 – The Year of Change

Back in January this year I had a cycling injury. Well it wasn’t really a cycling injury it was an infection which happened to come on after a regular turbo trainer session – so I call it a cycling injury but really it was just one of those things. I don’t want to come across as if I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill but this infection wasn’t your typical infection, which those who know me will understand. It turned out to be a major turning point in my life. It put me on my back, in bed, in a serious amount of pain, the worse pain I have felt in my life to date, for a couple of weeks which gave me a lot of time to think about life, the universe and everything.

So I couldn’t climb and I couldn’t ride my bike. Which made me a little sad. But there was hope that I would be back doing the things that I love in a few weeks. I then received news from the hospital that the infection may actually be cancer, which in turn sparked off more tests, more time off work and the things I love doing, followed by emergency keyhole surgery, followed by another 6 months or so before I could climb hard. So it’s been a tough year but I have met some lovely people, some amazing hospital staff who deserve awards for doing what we take for granted and often moan about, and I have done a lot of thinking, not to mention growing.

Whilst I was lying in bed (during the initial stages of the infection), probably drinking coffee, I received some post. It was a Jagged Globe newsletter. It was full of amazing images of past and future expeditions to the Greater Ranges and I read it with a tear in my eye – not because I felt sad but because I instantly knew that this was what I had to do. I felt so drawn to it all but I had no idea where to start. I started watching amazing videos online such as this Kangchenjunga video which, although has some sad news in it, I could feel the hairs on my arms standing on end, reaching out to that very mountain and pulling me closer and closer each time I watched it (I’ve lost count).

I thought I may have cancer, the wait for the test results was around 3 weeks but I had to start making changes in my life right away. I didn’t know what my future held but I didn’t have time to get scared about it. Well, looking back I think I did get very scared but I just bull-dozed through those feelings and focused on my dreams to take my mind off things. I had surgery and received the all-clear from the hospital – thankfully I did not have cancer, I had my life back. Now I know that sounds a bit dramatic and all ‘oh I nearly died and now I see the light’. I don’t mean it that way at all, what I mean is I had been incredibly fortunate to have this experience. It was like a mental cleansing. It made me realise and focus on what I really wanted in life. I used to chase the car, the house, the big bank balance, the 2-up – 2-down, the comfortable. Now all I wanted was to spend time in these amazing places around the world and to really live my life. For that reason I would not change a thing about having surgery. I look back on it as an amazing thing in my life, something that has saved me from wasting the rest of my life – for that reason, it was a small price to pay.

A fear of heights suddenly felt insignificant and silly. Now don’t get me wrong, that fear was very real inside me, as I know it is in others, and I knew that it was holding me back from living my dreams. I had to do something about it.

Since then, as my friends will know, I have been focusing on my head game this year and have made some really great progress. Progress that I am very proud of. Progress that has helped me enjoy climbing more than any finger board will ever do (for me). Progress that has helped me find the adventure in climbing. The one thing that was missing, though, was me embracing that adventure. That part was still holding me back. I would go out for days in the mountains and would still feel a little anxious about it all. Nothing compared to what I used to feel but it was there and I couldn’t stop it.

Embracing the Challenge

I have read a lot about adventure and challenging yourself over the last few months, mainly from people like Nick Bullock and Alastair Humphreys. Yesterday I had a moment where I filled in Alastair’s 20 Questions and watched a video of him climbing the Cuillin. And it dawned on me, and this may sound silly to those who already ‘know’ this, but that is all part of the adventure. The feelings that I am trying to remove are the feelings that make the adventure. Without those feelings of insecurity, of not-knowing, of being out of my comfort zone, there would be no adventure and there is no personal growth. And that is what it’s all about.

So this is my pledge. I’ve been hiding my true feelings because I don’t like being out of my comfort zone. Yet it’s those moments where I truly grow and experience life. It’s those moments that I look back on and make my self proud. It’s all of those moments that make me ‘me’. I am not running away anymore. I may question what I’m doing but I must learn to know that I question things because they aren’t normal.

I dream of climbing the world’s largest mountains particularly Cho Oyu and Kangchenjunga. I pretend those are not my dreams so that I don’t have to risk my self by following them. But I can’t do it any more. I can’t fight my dreams. It’s what I simply must do to truly life my life. My life will not always be comfortable but at least I can look myself in the eyes and say ‘I gave it my all’ when it eventually comes to an end. So that’s it. No looking back from this point. It’s time to embrace adventure and live in the now.

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