Torre Egger, Patagonia

Have you watched The Alpinist yet? It’s the story of Canadian climber Marc-André Leclerc’s crazy mountain climbing feats all over the world. Similar to Alex Honnold of Free Solo fame, Marc-André’s climbs featured a distinct lack of ropes or other safety nets (literally or figuratively), but also include the extra fear factor of mixed surface climbing on rock, ice, and snow.

Watch it, I won’t spoil anything for you. But I’ve been thinking lately about rock climbing. Maybe because I also listened to Rich Roll’s recent podcast, where Alexi Pappas drew a great image of life’s challenges as rock climbing.

Sometimes we talk about life projects and challenges like an uphill climb, but then sometimes we think of a ladder (like climbing the corporate ladder). What Alexi described well is how many of our challenges, whether they’re projects, parenting, relationships, career, or otherwise, are less like a repetitive upward motion of a ladder, and more like climbing a rock face, where each grab is considered, unique, and different. Marc-André’s climbing style is a great example of this. In the film he was pounding his ice pick into the ice, then leaving it to grab a rock with his hand, chipping his toe into a hold, even swapping out his shoes in between to meet the unique challenge of each move up the mountain.

That’s no ladder.

A few years ago my daughter painted this rock. I like it because it looks like a miniature mountain. At the time I was also thinking about mountains, and it reminded me of the “mountain” I’d chosen to climb called “taking care of a family”.

Now as I head to bed and see this little rock on my bed stand, I might pick it up and feel it’s texture in my hand, remembering that today’s challenges might be different than tomorrow’s, and different than those faced yesterday.

I might then remember to consider each new challenge afresh tomorrow, and to not forget to take note of the shiny golden butterflies I spot along the way.