The Muddy Pit

(Contributed by Mitch Greene)

A few years back I found a boulder outside that was absolutely spectacular. The best part about it was that it started in a cave and came all the way out and about another 20 feet up. It was a beautiful piece of rock, and I had to climb it. I found out that there actually was a registered problem on the boulder called Counterweight. The only problem was that the difficulty was higher and harder than anything I had done before. Well, me being me, I didn’t care and decided to work on it anyway. I started in early fall and went to it every once and a while, trying to get to the top of it and failing every time. Sometimes I would do better than others; sometimes I would make no progress at all.

Eventually, the winter season came so I couldn’t climb outside. Over that time, school began to be a lot to handle, work was taking up nearly 70 hours a week, and the relationship I was in at the time was a little wobbly. When I finally got back to working Counterweight, my mind was so clouded that it was hard to focus at all. I’m not sure when, but at some point along the way, I convinced myself that the key to clearing up my overwhelmed, clouded head was getting to the top of the boulder.

The more and more I poured myself into the problem the worse and worse my clouded mind became. I became resentful of the problem and myself. I would scream every time I fell, and I would sit silently when I wasn’t doing well.

Over time I tired out. I was sick of being frustrated and angry. I was just done with things falling apart around me because I couldn’t handle it. I wasn’t me, and I wanted me back. I just made the decision to be happier and solve my problems.

I thought that success was the key to clearing my mind, when all along a clear mind was the key to success. Counterweight was not the solution to my problems. It was a reward for solving them.

I hiked back into the mountains one day after work, while I was on far too little sleep and not enough food. It was even supposed to rain within the hour. Somehow, I still felt good about it. The bags under my eyes could probably hold 20 pounds of sand, but I felt light and focused. As it began to drizzle and the rain saturated the rock, I went for one last try, knowing that the conditions were poor. Somehow, it didn’t matter. It didn’t stop me. One move at a time I kept going until, before I even realized what had happened, I made it past the hard part and was home free. I practically ran up the rock. That day I screamed the loudest of all the times I had screamed. However, this time it was for a different reason.

Success doesn’t happen in the muddy pit. You have to crawl out first.