What happens when you have to concede that the journey actually is the destination? I don't generally go in for those kind of platitudes, but after spending Sunday climbing with Shannon at First Ascent, I realized that focusing on the how of getting to the top of the wall, rather than the end game, can be so much more fulfilling.
If you've never been to a climbing gym, the hand and foot holds on the walls are color coded so you can figure out the difficulty and paths of the various routes to the top. I found myself so laser-focused on how to get to the final step that I was completely missing how many options I had to make that happen. When I slowed down, I got so much more satisfaction from the tiny movements - a foot swap here, a weight shift there - than I did from making larger vertical moves (even if that meant using a foot or hand hold from a differently colored path). Don't get me wrong, reaching the top of the wall makes you feel like a total bad ass and even though I only made it to the top about 30% of the time, I still felt like Queen of the Mountain (okay, okay, not a mountain but you get it) every time. And though it was harder to take a beat to think through the journey and will my muscles not to give out while I planned my next step, it was almost a form of meditation to focus on my breath, relax into the discomfort (heights! shaking biceps! eek!), and trust that my body was going to do everything it could to keep me from falling without my needing to tell it to. The human body is an amazingly self-sufficient piece of machinery and I think we get into trouble only when we get in its way and stop it from taking care of itself in the way it was built to.
How often in my day to day life can I slow down, take a breath, and trust my body to handle its business? When can I let my brain take a nap and just relax into the moment? Strength doesn't only come from muscles (though I certainly rediscovered some long-forgotten sore back muscles when I woke up this morning), but from knowing when to take a break, or when to engage, or when to step back down until you can find a different foot hold.
Let's take the time to applaud ourselves for the small steps up; those quiet moments when we manage the sometimes difficult task of moving infinitesimally forward. Because even if we don't reach the top every time, the view from up there is worth it.