I recently realized that I love a challenge. I’m endlessly attracted to hard things.
I have a cow yoga calendar with a quote by Picasso that describes it very well, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
This also explains why I’m still plunking out level 2 tunes on our piano in spite of my slow progress. It is why I try again and again to conquer what I once could not do. Each challenge is a mountain in my life.
I’ve noticed two things about my mountains.
The first is that just because a mountain exists might not be a good enough reason to climb it. It may actually be really stupid for me to keep climbing the impossible hill–in spite of its fascinating difficulty. I often get stuck in a loop of try, fall (crash and burn), and recover, repeat. It’s a very attractive trap. Partly because I never like to feel that something has bested me, I face my fears, and I try again. For example, I could keep trying to run a marathon, burning out my knees, going to physical therapy, and going right back to training until I really did run that marathon (or not. I completed that cycle a couple of times but never even made it to the half marathon).
Just the thought of a marathon victory is glorious, and I one hundred percent believe it would be possible—with enough sacrifice, with enough social support, and if my body held out. But for me, the sacrifice was not worth it. I had to temper myself to leave that mountain alone (even though it is so beautiful and many have conquered it). And, because I didn’t run my marathon, I can run and play with my children without being sore for a week. I’ve learned and continue to learn that I have to be on guard against the siren calls of all the mountains I could climb and only pick the best ones for me and my family.
The second is described well in a Haitian Creole phrase, “Deye mon gen mon” or in other words, “behind mountains are more mountains.” Sometimes I seem to forget this. I push, hard, on the challenge I’m working on excited to conquer it and get surprised by all the smaller slopes between me and the peak I’d overlooked.
For example, one of my most recent mountains I’m attempting to conquer is to learn Haitian Creole (a very useful language here in Florida—so many people I’d love to talk to). But there is a lot more to it than just memorizing the vocabulary or even learning how to pronounce it. It is another thing entirely to think it up and speak it or be able to decode fast enough to understand someone else speaking it.
Alexander Pope describes it this way:
“And the first clouds and mountains seem the last;
But those attained, we tremble to survey
the growing labors of the lengthened way,
The increasing prospect tires our wandering eyes,
Hills peep o’er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!”
It can be so frustrating to deal with all the bunny hills that lead up to the really big summit I’m aiming for and exhausting to see all the mountains left to conquer. But, what if I expected them?
What if, instead of expecting to reach the top in one straight line, I remembered that “Deye mon gen mon?” Maybe I wouldn’t whine so much when my doctor’s appointment leads to three more. Maybe I wouldn’t be so rushed to get to the top and would take more time to enjoy the climb, and the view, and the people I’m with along the way. Maybe I’d choose more carefully the paths and the heights I want to conquer. Maybe I could be a little more patient with myself and the hill I’m on right now.
I also want balance and enjoyment in my life, so next time I find a sweet mountain, I think I’ll first triple the difficulty that I expect it to have and then ignore it a while. I’ll catch the view where I am and wait to see. I just might have enough mountains in my life already.
DarEll S. Hoskisson loves to do hard things, but not too hard. She shares her own challenges, goals and experiences as she guides you into a realistic path of self-reflection and self-improvement. She shares tips on how to find, know and trust yourself so you can decide if other’s suggestions are right for you. DarEll has the world a little upside down—where work is play and play is work. She actually thinks other people’s problems are fun to try to solve and lights up with a personal challenge. She loves people, harmony, and excellence. She also loves useful things like tools and ideas that make work faster, easier and more fun. DarEll married in 1993 and graduated from BYU (1995) with a bachelor’s degree in English and Secondary Education. Since then she was adopted by 5 children and has worked with many non-profits. She is currently a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor—leading pilates and yoga at her local YMCA. DarEll lives in Florida where she enjoys her family, nature, her work, and encouraging people to live well. She periodically posts her poems, what she is learning, and service opportunities on her personal blogs: https://personalabridgements.wordpress.com and https://darellhoskisson.wordpress.com
Expecting more mountains and assuming they are a normal and adventurous part of life makes huge difference! Thanks for the quote!
My pleasure. I have loved it ever since I first read it.