One of the most physically challenging experiences I have ever had was climbing to the base of
the namesake towers in Las Torres del Paine National Park with my husband. My pedometer
clocked 12.8 miles round trip from Hotel Las Torres at 443 feet in elevation to the base at 2,870
feet in elevation and back. It was basically like climbing a ladder straight up and then straight
down for 10 hours.
We departed at sunrise and returned to the hotel right as the sun was setting. I almost didn’t
In the last two miles of the ascent, it felt more like rock climbing than hiking. On a few occasions, I
relied on my hands and arms because my legs were simply giving way. I stopped more and more
frequently as the space between us and the members of our tour group increased.
It was in these moments, I wanted to quit. I wanted to give up. My fearful mind told me, “You’re
not strong enough. You can’t do this. It’s too far. You’ll never make it.”
The other voice I heard was that of my husband’s, who said, “You can do it. You got this. Just a
little farther. We can stop as often as you need to as long as we commit to continue. We came
too far to give up now.”
He was right. We traveled 6,668 miles to visit Patagonia. We trained for months leading up to this
trip. We looked forward to this hike and testing the edges of our capabilities.
We challenge ourselves not because we’re masochists, but because we want to stretch
ourselves. We want to reach farther. We can’t know what we’re capable of if we don’t. We dream
bigger and push ourselves because it brings us alive.
When I told myself that I could do it, I did. If I let myself believe I couldn’t, I would also prove
myself right. It was all in my perception.
When we reached the base, my joy and sense of pride was immense (not to mention my relief)!
We had done it! We made it to the top! While the view was incredible, our sense of
accomplishment was even greater.
In ancient cultures, especially that of native Americans, tribe members who came of age would
set out on vision quests as a rite of passage. They would be left on their own far away from their
village to test their competences. Up to that point, it was merely potential. Returning to their
village, they knew their edges, their personal strengths and how these contributions would best
serve their community.
The next time you experience a daunting challenge, ask yourself this, “What is this trying to teach
me? What am I gaining from this experience? How will I feel once I’ve overcome it?”
My hunch is, you’ll find your personal power and one more reason why you are absolutely
necessary to this world.