Earlier this fall, I needed to clear my head – it was spinning with anxious thoughts and I was having a hard time concentrating on even the simplest of tasks. To combat this, I set aside a day to unclutter my mind. My plan? To go hiking at an area state park. What started out as a day to clear my head turned into an amazing adventure and so much more.
Typically, I take an easy trail at the base of the park’s very large hill, since I use this time for personal reflection. (I find it a challenge to not trip over my feet at the same time that I am thinking deep thoughts.) I’m not sure how the mix-up happened, but I ended up on a completely different trail.
It took me a little while to figure it out, too, since I was busy taking pictures, listening to the soothing sound of the wind in the trees and birds chirping. When I did eventually realize I’d been going up hill for a lot longer than was normal, it seemed too late to turn back. I’d committed to this trail and wherever it would take me. And, if nothing else, enough people knew where I was (more or less) they could come find me if I got really lost.
Later, I rounded a corner and there stood one of the park’s main features – an observation tower. I found myself laughing out loud. Visiting the tower was on my agenda for the day, but I’d been planning to drive up the long, steep hill to get there. Drive, not hike! But, since I was already there, with the 45-foot high wood tower looming over me, how could I not climb to the top of it?
When I got to the top, I looked around at the most beautiful scenery. The sky was clear blue and you could see in all directions for what seemed like forever. I’d done it! I’d climbed all the way from the bottom of the park, to the very top of the peak.
I reflected on the accomplishment for a few moments. It never would have occurred to me to attempt such a feat. In fact, if someone had suggested it, I would have told them it was impossible for me. Since I didn’t know that I was doing it, I wasn’t able to speak to myself in a negative way and talk myself into failure. I just put one foot in front of the other and made it to the top. Maybe the easiest goals to reach are the ones we don’t know we are aiming for because we can’t “make room” for failure.
A day that started with the goal of clearing my head ended not only with my accomplishing that, but also with a renewed sense of my ability to achieve something I would previously have dismissed as impossible.
When you need to quiet your thoughts, is there one place you go, or one activity you fall back on to help you? What are some barriers that prevent you from taking advantage of the place/activity more often? Have you ever found yourself accidentally achieving a goal you normally would have been too afraid to try?
Keep it clean; keep it kind. Share your thoughts below.
Heather joined Empathia in 2004 as a staff writer. She has a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Christian Studies through Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.