Twenty minutes. That's how long I stood on top of The Grand Teton, a summit I'd been thinking and dreaming (ok, I admit - obsessing) about for 7 months. It was everything I'd hoped it would be yet it was also so much more than I ever imagined.
And then we climbed back down to base camp and hiked off the mountain. Then I got on a plane. Then I was back home. Then I was back at work, in an office with no windows.
It can be hard after any vacation to reenter your regular daily life. For two weeks I'd been living in the Wyoming mountains, often wearing the same clothes each day, emerging from a tent to the sound of birds and warm sunshine in the morning, carrying my small world of necessities on my back and spending the days walking along lakes and mountains and trees. But back in North Carolina I have to wake up to the sound of an alarm clock, put on professional clothes, and spend 8 hours a day indoors. Yes, reentry is hard, and this time it's felt damn near heartbreaking.
My mind often drifts back to moments from my grand adventure. I have so many wonderful memories to reflect on. Things I want to write about still, stories I want to tell. But my daydreaming always leads me back to the top of The Grand, to the moment I stood on the summit and realized what I'd accomplished. That feeling, that joy, that pride was so powerful. I don't ever want to lose that feeling. I don't ever want to forget how hard I worked to earn it. As I get back to the routine of my life I don't want the lesson I learned on The Grand Teton to fade. I accomplished something incredible. I pushed myself well past what I thought I was capable of. And I did it because I believed that I could. I wasn't as fit as I could have been, I wasn't as prepared as I thought I'd be, I wasn't experienced or confident in the way some of the other guys on the climb were. But I had a a desire and a belief that burned inside me. A fire that told me I could do this, I would do this. I believed in myself, something I often fail to do. And because of that I got 20 minutes of pure joy on the summit of The Grand.
It started as most things do, with just a vague idea. I did some research online, looked at photos from my trip, pondered, questioned, debated.... but finally it came to me, an image and a way to carry the experience and the lessons learned from The Grand with me always. Those moments on the mountain are a part of me now, they're who I am and who I've become. And now they're on my skin. A deeply symbolic reminder which I can gaze at for the rest of my life. When those fears and doubts and worries that life brings creep into my day, I can look down and remember.
I believed I could. And so I did. And I will always be stronger because of it.