Getting Out of My Comfort Zone
(Lake Tahoe, Nevada)
The View From the Top of the World
In only 9 days, I will retire from my 34 year career as a teacher. I am alternating between exhilaration and sheer panic! Moving from a structured life to a more free-flowing one is difficult for someone with an anxiety disorder like me. So, yesterday, I decided to push my comfort zone a bit...
Sunday, June 2. As I get older, I grow more fearful of new experiences, especially those which involve physical exertion. I might have a heart attack somewhere out where they can’t rescue me, I might meet a bear (I live at Lake Tahoe - we have lots of bears here, so this is not a random, weird fear), I might get lost and not be found because my cell phone battery died, I might…well, you get the idea. For me, it seems to be all about safety.
So, on Sunday I took a small step and did a new two mile hike up to a fire lookout station. I don’t have much problem with hikes I’ve taken before – it’s the new and different experiences that pose a challenge for me. After all, hospital facilities are rarely found on a fire road in the woods!
The trail was rated as “easy/moderate” but was steeper than I was led to believe and uphill all the way. I had to stop often to catch my breath. As I listened to my heart screaming for mercy and struggling to breathe, I felt the old fear of dropping dead right then and there in the middle of the fire road where no one would ever find me. However, I persevered and trudged (albeit slowly) on.
I stopped frequently and enjoyed the view and chatted with the many paragliders who were humping their equipment up to the same destination. “How silly I am,” I thought, “There are plenty of people around to pick up my dead body and they could easily carry it considering how much they have on their backs!” I was merely hiking to the top of the mountain – they were planning to jump OFF the damn thing!
I am proud to say that I didn’t give up and turn back and the view from 7100 feet was worth it.
This particular fire lookout site (they tore the 1927 building down in the early 2000s) is high above the north shore of Lake Tahoe and at 1000 feet above lake level you can see the towns strung together like beads on a tree-lined chain with wide swaths of gorgeous beaches leading to the lake. It was spectacular and gave me a new perspective on this beautiful place I call home.
I’ve been meaning to do this particular hike for about 35 years and I have finally followed through. Better late than never!
The trip back down the mountain was glorious. I was so excited that I accomplished this small goal, there were people to talk to on the trail and some of their excitement about what THEY were about to do (paraglide off the top) rubbed off on me. And, of course, it was all downhill from there!
Lesson: I am 62 and I can still hike uphill to a destination 7100 ft. above sea level. I am blessed with health, a beautiful environment and I didn’t give up. That’s enough for one day!
Wendy: Wow.. Go For It! I am sooo proud of you! I don't know I could have done that -- both the climb AND the anxiety of it!
I am absolutely THRILLED that you posted this! A true glimpse into what retirement can be, for all of us, if we simply conquer those irrational fears and HAVE FUN in life.
That might mean trying to paint even if it's pretty childish looking in the end, if it's what YOU feel you want to try -- just do it folks!
Now if you've always wanted to climb Two Miles after thinking about it for Thirty-Five Years... just do it! Go back to the top of this page, or even Print it Out for later..and Just Do It!
Thank YOU, MT!!
Wendy's other site... because Aging Matters!