A battle against the inner critic and chasing opportunities even when unprepared
Yesterday I had the opportunity to try my first Highline Slackline.
It’s left my mind in a flurry. Thoughts racing in every direction. Set my mind afire.
More scarily though, it revealed an inner me. The child that is still afraid. The negative Nancy in my mind that is stressed out, anxious and worried about what can go wrong. The inner critic that is never happy even when I’ve pushed myself to new limits.
It was an experience that has left me with a variety of insights both about myself and the world at large. Despite not being able to take my first steps, the mere act of putting myself out there was something I will never forget. It’s something that I will always remember as a turning point.
To give the story it’s proper context, let’s take it all back to the beginning.
I woke up yesterday morning determined to try my first highline. For those of you who don’t know what a highline is, it’s basically an elastic tightrope rigged between two points (usually mountain faces), that allow you to walk between those two points. It’s usually so high off the ground that you need a harness so that when you fall, the line catches you and you don’t die. Definitely not a sport for the lighthearted, but it’s become my recent obsession.
Ever since I arrived in Brazil I’ve been determined to try my first highline. I’ve been practicing Slackline for the last year, and it felt like the time was coming. That my moment was near.
A few weeks ago I met a guy on the beach who said that he could take me to do a highline. He had a harness that I could use (a necessity if you want to highline so that you don’t die), and he would let me know the next time there was an opportunity.
…Then on Thursday he messages me saying that there is a 50m long highline set up at the Mirante do Leblon.
Currently I’m able to handle up to about 30m of Slackline with consistency. I can walk that back and forth, stand sideways, turn, and bounce while I walk. I feel comfortable at that length.
In the world of the Slackline though, adding a few more meters makes a world of difference. So while jumping from 30-50 meters might not seem like that much, IT IS. Heavier lines, more tension, overall more dangerous and potential to fuck your shit up.
I’ve been hungry for 50 meter lines now for some time. I’ve felt capped at the 30m mark. Like I need something harder.
I also knew that if I want to be able to highline, they usually start at around 50m long. This was the mark I had in mind.
So when my friend said that there is a ±50m highline setup overlooking the ocean how on earth could I pass it up!?!
I would not let this opportunity slide by. I would get my first experience on the highline, for better or for worse.
Don’t get me wrong though – the doubt creeped in like a motherfucker.
In the days leading up to the highline it was like a battle of mental imagery. Rather than imagining myself walking, all of the rational excuses of why I shouldn’t try it came to mind.
My goin hurts. My shoulder too. I need to work on my Chongo mount (how you stand up on the line). My barrel roll onto the line from underneath isn’t good enough yet. I need more practice.
Worse, am I falling back into the trap of my reckless self? Trying things and getting myself injured because I did something beyond my capabilities? After having a great year of getting into great shape will I face a setback because of another reckless injury?
I should wait. Train more. Make sure I’m not battling any nagging injuries before I go. Feel more prepared.
All valid questions and statements. All true indeed.
I WAS underprepared. It WAS reckless and irresponsible to get on a line like that. I knew that my abilities weren’t up to par with what the course required.
Then one day I was walking with my ex-girlfriend, expressing my doubts to her. She told me that I need to go and do it. That it’s just fear and excuses. That she missed the Troy who runs around recklessly trying everything, the Troy who doesn’t worry about if he will get hurt, the Troy who is just exploring and having fun like an awe eyed child.
Embrace THAT Troy, instead of the rational reasoning Troy who needs to think about everything relentlessly.
She was right. I was creating excuses. All probably valid, but none that should prevent me from giving it a try anyway.
With that in mind, I realigned. I reaffirmed my commitment to my task. I would jump on my first highline.
But first – I had to try and buy a harness for myself. Using the harness of someone else is generally frowned upon, and if you bought a harness they know you’re serious and have probably trained.
On Saturday morning I awoke determined to buy one. I went to where my friends recommended to me but….no one had it.
My friend also informed me he wouldn’t be able to go, and we should push for tomorrow instead.
And so we did. He agreed to bring his harness and we could both use it.
I woke up on Sunday filled with a lot of emotion. All of the doubts swirling around my mind mixed with visualizations of myself on the highline. I looked at videos on instagram of people walking the exact line I was about to walk and imagined it was me. I visualized myself walking the line.
I said to myself no excuses – today we hit our first highline (I often refer to myself in the we – but that’s a different story altogether haha)
That morning I ate a MASSIVE breakfast. I treated myself. I needed all of the nutrients I could get for the day that lied ahead.
By the time I finished eating it was around noon. I immediately went to the spot where I thought that they would be setup.
Unfortunately, the sun was blisteringly hot and I could see that there were a few people there, but no one was walking yet. Too hot out still.
I texted that same ex-girlfriend and she told me that there’s a waterline setup at Vidigal beach and I should give it a try.
Done. I had never tried a waterline and was excited at the prospect of spending the day slacklining in the ocean.
I arrived at the beach and immediately swam out to the rocks where the line was setup. It was empty. Like it was waiting just for me.
I pulled myself up onto the line and…….damn this fucker was loose.
It was tensioned as a “rodeo line” – which means that there is no tension or stretchiness to the line, its just hanging there and sways from side to side very easily.
I’m not very good with rodeo lines, and then throw in the ocean on top of it. Waves frequently came in and rocked the line from side to side – another experience I’ve never tried.
It was challenging to say the least. Definitely slightly outside of my range of abilities. I stayed there for a solid 30 minutes trying over and over but wasn’t able to stand for more than a few seconds.
Having said that – super fun. Just sitting on the line or trying to stand while the waves rocked me around was exhilarating. Re-Experiencing the ability to not even stand on the line again. Falling off the line directly into the ocean. I had a blast 🙂
I was worried about using up too much energy though, so eventually I swam back to shore and sat on the beach reading a book until my friend joined.
Eventually my friend arrived, we smoked a J on the beach, chatted for a bit, and relaxed. Before we knew it, it was around 4pm and time to get moving to the highline 🙂
Fast forward about an hour and we finally arrived at the spot where I would attempt my first rodeo with a highline.
When we arrived there were two guys already there. One was already in the middle of walking on one of the lines. The other was a jacked Brazilian guy tatted up from head to toe who was immediately welcoming and excited to see some newcomers. He was waiting around and relaxing while the other guy walked. His name was Michele.
We talked for a bit and I explained my current skill level. I showed him some instagram videos I have of some core techniques such as how to roll onto the line after falling, and how to stand up on the line in a “chongo mount” and he seemed pleased. He said that today would be a day that I would never forget.
While chatting with him I said “I want to fall off. I’m most excited to try and stand, and then fall!”
He said “good, many people resist that. They can get up and walk on the line, but they avoid falling off. They try to catch themselves instead of committing to the fall. Don’t be afraid, the rope will catch you. The more willing you are to fall, the better you will do.”
After about 15 minutes of waiting, my buddy decided that he wanted to go on his first run. He chose the orange line on the left side. This one was probably about 5 meters longer and the line itself was stretchier and more flexible. Seemed like the harder line of the two, but he looked ready to jump in.
While he was getting ready I was given my first lessons in how to tie a knot in your leash that is attached to the harness. This is arguably the most important part of highlining, as this knot is literally what connects you to the line. This knot will be your savior – but tie it wrong and disaster surely awaits.
I was excited to see him walk because he’s close to my skill level. When we both trained on my 30m line he definitely looked cleaner and more fluid than myself, but we could walk the same distances, do many of the same tricks, and I would argue that my exposure (standing sideways) could perhaps even be better than his (perhaps haha).
He’s definitely better than me, but his skill level seems within very close reach of my own. If he could walk these lines, that was a promising sign for myself as well.
And lo and behold…..he stood up and took his first steps!!!
I was amped for him. it’s a special feeling seeing one of your homies balancing on a thin line 50 feet above the ocean with waves crashing below while he gracefully walks from one end to the other. Really inspired me to know that these are the people who I’m surrounding myself with.
Eventually he fell off, dangled around for a bit, and then got himself back onto the line. He made it look easy. It gave me faith in my own abilities.
On his 2nd or 3rd fall he took an awkward tumble. You could see that it was a painful one for him. I would later find out that he got the wind knocked out of him.
After this you could see the fatigue in him. It was time to make his way home. He crawled back home to shore, untied his leash from the line, and came back to where I was sitting with a huge smile on his face.
Up to this point I was waiting for 1) His harness and 2) The white line to be free.
While my buddy was on the orange line, another guy jumped on the white one and took it for a run. Then when my buddy got off the orange line, Michele jumped on the white line as well. So while I now had the harness, the line I wanted to try was no longer free.
Don’t get me wrong either, I wasn’t complaining. For one, I was ok with delaying my attempt for a bit while the nerves settled. For two, it was incredible to see people walking these highlines in person! Over the last year I’ve watched countless instagram and youtube videos of people walking highlines. I’m obsessed with it.
Seeing it in person was on a different level. I was mesmerized. Completely lost and immersed in the moment. Transported into their bodies and imagining that I was them.
It felt like the entire last year of visualizations manifested into reality. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Did I really make this happen? Was I really about to hit my first highline? Am I really surrounded by the people I follow on instagram, getting lessons from people I look up to and admire?!
It was a dream come true. The whole experience was magical. Like it was out of a fairy tale of the Law of Attraction. It’s like the universe was winking at me, “ye ask and ye shall receive!”
Eventually Michele jumped off the white line and unstrapped himself. I could feel my time was coming.
Only problem was, Michele was now making moves like he was ready to leave. He was packing up his things.
This worried me because my buddy was not experienced enough to take me out on his own. That would be a bit reckless and irresponsible of the two of us.
As he was packing up his things I asked, “are you leaving?”, to which he more or less replied, “yea I will be soon.”
I quickly asked if he could stay and help me get set up on my first line. He agreed and stayed 🙂
Next thing I know I was strapping on my harness and watching my friend Rodrigo tie knots into the leash.
Harness strapped in. Leash double checked and knotted perfectly. The time has come.
I walked up to the line, jumped on, and took a few deep breaths.
Lets do this shit.
Next thing I know I’m shimmying myself away from the rock face and giving myself distance from the cliff. At this point I’m still seated with the line between my legs, and I’m pulling myself slowly towards the middle one inch at a time. Sitting on the line requires a lot of balance in itself, so each small pull forward on the line feels like a giant step away from the cliff.
Immediately the biggest difference I notice is the sheer weight of the line. The tension. It’s heavier. Requires more strength to bounce. Bounces deeper and with more force.
We’re officially on the big boy lines.
Still though, it feels manageable. Different, but within reason. Intimidating, but surmountable nonetheless.
Eventually I get to a nice spot and stop shimmying forward. At first I just sit there and take in the surroundings. The giant rock face staring me in the eyes a mere 40m in front of me. To my left nothing but endless ocean in sight and the view of Leblon and Ipanema beach. Below me the waves are crashing into shore. To my right more boulders and the sight of the ocean. Truly a remarkable view to just sit in.
I took a few deep breaths and settled in. In situations like these I’ve learned that staying with your breathing is the best way to stay calm. Deep consistent slow breathing. Smiling. Appreciating. Thinking of gratitude for the experience.
I expected my heart to be beating out of my chest, but strangely it wasn’t. Given the circumstances I felt pretty calm. Nervous and uncertain of if I would be able to walk, but I didn’t feel the typical sensations of fear. I wasn’t freaking out at all. My mind was still.
Time to get into a chongo mount and try to stand up on this bitch.
To get into a Chongo I put my right foot on the line in front of me, and I turn the sole of my foot sideways so that the line is running perpendicular to my foot. This creates the effect of bringing my heel very close to my right glute, making it easy to do a one legged squat of sorts.
When my right foot is firmly on the line, I’ll put my right hand behind me, and my left hand in front of my right foot. I’ll push off the line to create some leverage, and then put all of my weight onto my right foot. My right hand will be waving in the air to help with balance, and my left hand is still holding the line creating some extra pressure. I will then bring my left foot (currently dangling) up to the line, and then squat upwards to stand up with both feet now on the line.
I’m able to get myself to the point where my right foot is on the line and I’m ready to stand….only problem is the bottom of my right foot is sweating.
Every time I try to stand up, my foot slides off the line. I try about 3-4 times and the same thing keeps happening. I can’t get my right foot to stay on the line long enough to bring my left foot up.
I keep getting leverage, get into ready position aaaand…..slip.
After a few attempts I can hear the people behind me trying to get my attention. Michele is telling me to jump off the line. To just say fuck it and jump so I can practice getting back on the line.
Although I felt like I was getting closer to standing up, and that in a few more attempts I would nail it, in the heat of the moment I reacted to him and followed his instructions….so I jumped off the line.
Can’t lie – that part was exhilarating. One second hanging from the line and the next WHOOP! And the leash/harness catch you.
Experiences like these will forever be anchored into my memory – I’ll never forget dangling from a highline for the first time with beautiful views in every direction.
Life really is beautiful when we take the time to shell-shock ourselves into hyper-awareness.
Was also very comforting to feel the security of the harness. To feel how safely rooted in there I was. That I could trust my harness and the leash. That trust in the equipment is really important in an activity like high lining.
Now for the tough part…getting back onto the line.
Now I have to use the leash as if I am climbing a rope upwards towards the line…and it’s strangely exhausting. The first time I try to climb up I don’t get a good grip on the line and I fall back down again. I can feel that my forearms and biceps have a big pump already.
I try to climb up again and this time I’m able to get a secure grip. I have both legs wrapped around the line. My arms are extended and I’m hanging from the bottom but gripping it tightly. I swing my left leg around to redistribute my weight and get on top of the line (something called a barrel roll or in Portuguese “bombeiro”) buuuuuutttttt….it doesn’t work.
The line is too heavy. I can’t get enough momentum in my barrel roll. I can’t get myself back on top of the line. Even worse, as I’m desperately trying to roll onto the line, it’s now violently shaking, making it nearly impossible to maintain my grip. I can feel my arms tiring and I let go again.
I try again. No dice. My attempts to roll onto the line were more like watching a fish out of water squirm around on the beach. Not pretty.
Even worse, now I feel absolutely spent. Like I’ve used all of my energy. My forearms/biceps/shoulders feel fried. Like I have no energy left in any of them.
Now desperation settles in and I realize that I might just be fucked.
Here I am, dangling in the middle of a highline above the ocean, still a solid 20-30 feet away from the rock face, with no energy left in the tank to pull myself home.
Man up mode settles in.
I realize that at this point my only goal is to get back home. Standing up and walking this line will be for another day. Now I need survival mode.
So once again I pull myself up to the line and grab hold. Now it’s time to crawl back home.
Again, every small inch forward is a battle. I crawl about 5 steps before I have to let go again from exhaustion.
Again, I’m dangling in front of the rock face that is seemingly no closer at all.
Now, I can feel a pain in my right shoulder. Like I aggravated my lingering pain that has been there for the last few weeks.
Over the course of what felt like around 15 minutes (although it was probably less) I repeated this process over and over again.
Climb up, crawl a few steps, drop from exhaustion, dangle while I gain whatever little strength I had left in the tank.
At one point Michele yells at me, “just swing yourself onto the line!”, to which I reply, “I have no energy left.”
He just looks at me, shakes his head, and then walks away leaving me dangling there.
So I continued to drag myself home one small step at a time with what felt like a shoulder on fire with pain.
At one point three girls showed up (all very cute) to witness the mess of my situation. None of them looked at all concerned, but I can’t lie I was embarrassed to be hanging there so helplessly. Especially when I later learned all three are badass themselves in their own trades.
Eventually despite my squirming and struggling I was close enough to the rockface for the other guy (not Michele or Rodrigo) to come and give me a hand and pull me forwards. He pulled me into shore and I was safe once again.
I took off my harness, walked up the mountain, and collapsed in exhaustion. My expedition with the highline was officially over.
Now it was time to reflect on what had just occurred.
Here’s what I learned:
My initial reaction was disappointment
I found it interesting to note that once the experience was over and I was safely sitting on the cliff again, my initial reaction was one of disappointment, rather than excitement or fulfillment.
I sat there looking back on the experience and replaying it all over in my mind again and again. What went wrong at each stage? What could I have done differently? What were the turning points?
The inner critic went to work and tore down every miniscule detail of the experience, beating myself up for my foolish mistakes along the way.
I was worried about my shoulder and the pain scorching through it, and if that meant I wouldn’t be able to slackline again for some time. I felt embarrassed about my poor performance and failure to execute. That I let my new friends down somehow.
I felt disappointed in myself for forgetting all that I know and not trusting my abilities. Discouraged in how much more work I have to put in before I can walk a line like that. Angry that I lost the mental battle.
Here I was, fresh off of completing a goal I’ve had for the last year, and I STILL wasn’t satisfied. Instead of being happy and fulfilled for putting myself out there and giving it a try, the inner critic ran amok in my mind.
I believe that moments like these are a great opportunity to be the objective observer. To merely take notice that this is how my mind is naturally reacting to a situation. To sit back and allow the play of the mind do its job, not intervene, and take notes for future reference. So that’s what I did.
This experience made me realize that the goal oriented mind is never satisfied – Sometimes we can achieve our goals and still be upset with how we achieved them.
This is the double edged sword of being hyper motivated and self-competitive. Even when we break the norm, thrust ourselves out of our comfort zones, and push the limits of our abilities, we don’t celebrate the small wins.
Instead of taking the time to say, “holy shit you just did something BAD ASS!!!”, the conversation in my mind immediately turns to “you could have done x, y, and z to have done that better.”
The problem with this? Performance becomes black and white. If I didn’t perform well, I’m upset.
In reality it’s not about how you perform, it’s the ability to put yourself on stage and go for it. It’s about appreciating that the failures and missed attempts are often the most important building blocks to when you finally crack the code and nail what you’ve been working towards.
It was only later on that night when I sat down to meditate and reflect on gratitude that I finally gave myself a moment to give myself a pat on the back and say “holy shit we did it!!!” – and THEN I was flooded with all of the positive emotions and the insights poured in.
It was the same when I ran my business too – I always had a hard time celebrating the small wins. Even when I do something great, it’s always immediately onto the next thing. Even when I’ve had a good habit for a while, it’s always how do I get better? Where can I improve? How can I become more efficient?
I learned that my automatic reaction was to worry about my shoulder pain, and beat myself up for my lack of preparation/ability to perform, instead of congratulating myself and being grateful for the experience. I learned that the same mind that drove me to try and jump on that line is the same mind that betrayed me with self criticism directly after – we have to create space for the congratulatory mind to come in or the goal oriented mind will run amok.
So what can I do for next time? First, say THANK YOU to my inner critic, because I know he’s just trying to protect me, to help me get better, despite how annoying he might seem. By saying thank you I can acknowledge his presence without avoiding it, while simultaneously creating space to appreciate. Then, I can take a deep breath (or ten), appreciate what I just put myself through, feel the gratitude for the experience, and smile in self congratulations before I take the inevitable dive into nitpicking my performance.
Opportunities often present themselves when we’re unprepared
There’s the age old Zig Zigler quote that says “Success is when opportunity meets preparation”, and I generally agree with this.
But what happens when you’re NOT prepared? What happens when an opportunity arises and you know you’re not ready for it?
Are you just going to sit there and allow it to pass? Watch it fly by without doing anything?
Personally, I can’t watch something fly by. I’d rather chase after an opportunity with 50% preparation and see what happens than let myself pas it up.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not making a case for being unprepared. Obviously you would rather be prepared going into something, as it increases your likelihood for success.
But sometimes life requires that we take action. An opportunity arises, you’re unprepared, and you have no way to get yourself prepared quickly. In these situations we must head into battle even when we know that we’re unprepared.
A similar experience happened this year when I was in Brazil and met a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I was recovering from a different injury (story of my life) and he wanted me to come train with him. Could I pass up an opportunity to train with a black belt? Hell no!!! Despite my lack of prep I had to give it a shot because I didn’t know when I would get another similar opportunity.
While I might get another opportunity to highline sometime soon, will it be the same line? Same setup? Same people? Life and experiences are impermanent, and this unique opportunity right now won’t come up again. It’s in our hands to decide if we act or retreat into the comfort of safety.
Perhaps it’s fear of missing out, perhaps I need to be more deliberate in diving into the right opportunities, but I know that when I look back on life it’s the experiences like these where I was so far outside of my comfort zone that are some of my strongest memories that never fail to bring a smile to my face.
It’s funny because I’m currently reading “The Drawing of Three” by Stephen King as I write this, and today this quote popped up that is oh so relevant…“‘Are you ready?’ Roland asked. ‘No, but let’s do it,’ Eddie said”.
There will always be excuses to fall back on (if you allow them to)
There are always a never ending list of excuses that come to mind with why you shouldn’t do something – there’s usually only a few reasons why you should.
Again to quote “The Drawing of Three” by Stephen King, “Eddie knew there were a thousand excuses for getting high but no reasons”
There will always be an excuse. Maybe it’s a subtle pain, or maybe you didn’t eat enough, maybe you’re not hydrated enough, today isn’t the right day, doesn’t feel right, etc. There will always be an excuse why you shouldn’t, and the hardest part is deciding to do it even when you have excuses outweighing reasons.
This was a win in not allowing excuses to win. Although I had a million valid excuses I could have fallen back on, I didn’t allow myself to. I said to myself no excuses, and I meant it. My brain tried to throw everything at me it could in form of resistance and doubt, and I merely weathered the barrage until I was on the middle of the highline 50 feet over the ocean.
This was a win in throwing myself off the cliff and dealing with the doubt later. A win in putting excuses aside and operate from a place of following my heart. To put mind over matter to the test.
Fuck excuses. Throw yourself out there even when you’re unprepared and have a million excuses not to. The only reason you need is that it will be good for you in the long run despite the initial discomfort.
I believe that fear is something we can practice. That we can practice making normal.
Asking yourself, “am I afraid for a legitimate reason, or am I afraid because I’ve never done this before?”
This is an important question to ask because our first time trying anything new will always be the most difficult, most disorienting, and most uncomfortable. But this isn’t a bad thing – it’s just because you’ve never done it before.
Over time the more that you do it, the more normal it becomes. The more that fear subsides, or the more that the feelings of fear become normal and something you can anticipate. Familiar even.
I wanted this experience so that I can begin to normalize the feelings of being on the Highline. So that I can make the sensation of sitting on a bouncy line 50 feet over the ocean a familiar feeling that I welcome and embrace.
When something is different or abnormal it catches us off-guard. We don’t know how to react to it. We don’t know what to do and in turn we freeze up.
This is what happened to me. It was both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.
The sensation of dangling 50 feet above the ocean with no ability to get myself home caused me to freeze up. I shut down in the face of fear. I stopped believing in myself and my abilities flew out the window.
This was a good lesson in normalizing fear. Becoming familiar with the previously unfamiliar. Now the next time I’m hanging from the line I can look back on this experience and pull these lessons so that the new normal becomes getting back on the line 😉
The end of the beginning
I’ve had a few experiences in life where something that I thought I would love turned out to be way less interesting than I previously thought.
Take for example SCUBA diving – thought I would love it, gave it a try, found out that I have a hard time equalizing because of sinus problems – and even when I did finally equalize I found it all very boring. Turns out I wasn’t all that interested in SCUBA after all.
Jiu Jitsu as well. Gave it a try for a few months, and while it was a lot of fun, I was tired of being injured all the time, and didn’t really enjoy the experience of having another sweaty dude rolling on top of me. Decided it wasn’t for me in the end.
Sometimes it’s good to get a preview of what is to come before you invest too much time and energy into something. To see what it’s like and if it’s worth the necessary effort.
Part of me wanted to jump on the highline to see if this is really what I want to keep training towards. A moment of affirmation before I continue dedicating more time and energy to it.
I also believe that on the journey towards mastery of anything, there always comes a moment where your commitment and dedication are put to the test. Where the world bitch slaps you and asks “are you SURE this is what you wanted?!!? Are you SURE that this is the path you want to walk on?
While you feel like you’ve been on the path for a while, you’re actually just getting started and have a very long journey ahead. One that will be painful as fuck but you know the reward you’re chasing in the end.
This was one of those moments. While it feels like I’ve been training on the slackline for a while now, this is just the beginning. I’m still a white belt in the world of slackline.
It’s funny because I recently read “The Gunslinger” and it’s a similar story. They talk about “the end of the beginning”.
This gunslinger has been on a journey for all of his life when he finally catches “The man in black.” When he finally catches him, the Man in Black tells him that this is merely the end of the beginning. His journey is actually yet to begin. He had to be tested and get through all of the shit before it just to see if he was truly worthy of the long arduous path ahead.
I feel like that was my moment yesterday. That make or break moment where you realize “holy shit I have so much work ahead of me and this is painful as shit….you sure that this is the sport you want to invest your time and energy into?”
Fuck yes. No turning back now.
Building on the above, realizing that I’m still a white belt and I have a long path ahead of me. A reminder to be humble. To respect this sport. To bring humility with me on the line because it has a clever way of bitch slapping the ego out of you.
Most importantly, be grateful to walk this path. Grateful for these opportunities. Grateful that a year of consistent training and practice made this opportunity possible. Gratitude that I met someone who wants to train with me and I’m building new friendships. Grateful that my body and mind allow me to do this. Grateful for the ability to even be in Brazil in the first place.
I literally couldn’t even properly process this experience without gratitude. I didn’t give myself credit for this until I sat down and thought about all of this under the light of gratitude. I was in a funk and gratitude pulled me out of it. Gratitude made me realize how fucking awesome what I just did was. Gratitude gave me perspective. Meaning to my pain.
If our pain has a deeper purpose, and we remain anchored to that purpose, and remain grateful for being able to pursue that purpose, all pain we experience is worth it. Pain is required, suffering isn’t. We never suffer a day when we remain humble and grateful to have a purpose and mission at all.
And this pain in my shoulder is a constant reminder of these lessons. The dose of humility to stay around for a little while. Every time I feel that nagging pain, thank it. I’m grateful for it. An anchor to the experience to help me remember everything and not let this slip through my fingers.
I jumped into the ring knowing I was unprepared but willing to seize the opportunity – I ignored doubt and excuses and rode the waves of fear.
In the end, the fact that I got into the ring is what matters most. I’ve left scarred as expected but claim my victory in knowing that that first attempt out on the line will always be the most important one.
Slacklining is a sport that has given me meaning in more ways than I can count. It’s changed my body. Refined my mind. Synchronized the two. And this is just the beginning.
Until the next attempt – now I go train until the next opportunity presents itself.
Also published on Medium.