Tuesday afternoon, at about 3:00 pm, I took a fall on the Appalachian Trail. I was about five miles into a seven mile hike. That means that I had trekked more than fifty-five miles of the Appalachian Trail without a fall. But carrying a fifty pound pack, loosing focus for a few seconds, and bam – timber!
Now, in case you don’t know me personally, let’s just say that I am not your typical thru-hiker. I have always loved the outdoors, but until my opening salvo with “the trail,” I’ve never been a hiker or camper. Folks on the trail, are typically svelt, nature-loving folk that hear the mountains calling them via hotline. Me? I heard my friend, Benj Smith say that he wanted to hike the Georgia section of the AT this year, and I jumped on board without a clue as to what I was attempting.
After experiencing rain, wind, hail, technical climbs, descents, and equipment challenges, I now love tackling and accomplishing what I’d have never thought I could accomplish. It’s not easy, it’s not for everyone, but I’ll do it again, and again. Not because I’m a hiker, but because I never want to stop growing, stop learning, stop challenging myself, or stop getting up.
Back to the fall. I caught my left foot on a rock that I should have stepped over, but my eyes were focused forward, not on the next step. It was a splat that could have created a rock slide. Jarred and angry at myself, I got up, dusted off a little dirt and went back to the climb. As we got to our tent site, I was so glad that I had gotten up and got back on the trail. I sat down, cleaned up a bit, and enjoyed a cup of coffee, a warm meal and a restful evening. As I collapsed into my sleeping bag, I was thanking the Creator that I was where I was and that I had not stopped.
One of the worst statements we can make as we head into the second half (or final quarter) of our lives is, I WISH I WOULD HAVE. I felt clumsy, frustrated, and embarrassed at the fall, but there are only two ways that we can respond to a fall. You can stay down, stay embarrassed, and stay frustrated. Or, you can get up, dust yourself off and keep climbing.
Sooner or later, we all fall. Let me encourage you to get up and keep going. If you are seeking a way to fall less frequently, here is my simple advice; Be present in the moment that the Divine has given you. I’m all about building a better future, a larger retirement account, or a dream to chase, but not at the expense of being fully present in the moment . Often, that’s how you fall. You catch a rock with your foot because you are looking past the moment, and splat. This I know, you cannot build a better tomorrow, until you fully embrace today! When we fully embrace our moments, we fall less frequently. It’s so much easier to get up when you are grateful for the present moment. You gotta get back up!
I heard the story of a college football coach that was making a recruiting visit to a local high school. He was there to recruit a bruising fullback. What caught his eye, was a lineman that kept getting pancaked. The other college coaches that were attending the same practice couldn’t get over how this young back was steamrolling this lineman. After practice, all the college coaches lined up to get to the impressive back. But this coach went the opposite way and found the lineman that had just been run over, and over, and then over again. The coach offered him a scholarship on the spot. When asked why he would do such a thing, he responded that he saw a young man that would keep getting up and keep competing. That young lineman had a pretty great college and pro career.
Here’s a Captain Obvious statement; we all fall! The second lesson; getting up is how you get to the top.
If you’ve recently fallen, GET UP! I’m so grateful that the Divine has a sweet spot for His kids, when we get up, and never stop getting up. You see, when we get back up, we recognize our need for the grace, love, and mercy of a loving Heavenly dad. And when we dust off and keep going, the Divine will propel us further than we can ever imagine.
Get up, my friend. The summit might be just past your most recent fall.