If there is one thing that backpacking has taught me, it is that we have to face times of hardship if we want to grow.

There comes a time in every backpacking trip I take that I want to quit. I’m hiking up a mountain and I could not give even one and a half shits about the beautiful scenery around me. The only thing on my mind is that my pack is too damn heavy and there doesn’t seem to be a top to the incline I am climbing.

In that moment, I lose all faith. I distrust my map which claimed there was a top to the mountain. I start wondering why I ever thought it would be a good idea to bring by flute which easily adds 4 pounds to my pack. I even lose confidence in my physical ability to traverse such topography.

The loss of faith in that moment is the lowest place I can sink to.

And then a transformation happens. I realize that I would rather go on than turn back. Against all of the elements, my aching back, and the loss of faith, I decide to press on. And once I pass through those flames, I am stronger. And the reminder that I can rebound from such a dark place is why I go out onto the trail.

Because life is that way. Every day that I try to make a career out of being a professional musician, I am reminded about those low places. I am barraged on all sides by reminders that “classical music is dying”, jobs are scarce, and working doesn’t pay that well. For every new musical thing I do, there are 10 other ventures I should have been doing in addition to it.

And sometimes it gets me down. I lose faith on a fairly regular basis in the uphill climb of life.

But I am armed and ready to face that low place. I have backpacked enough to know that for every awesome view, there is a substantial amount of toil to get there. I know that every time I lose faith in myself, I regain anew my ability to fight through it.

Because every time we think we won’t be able to continue but somehow find the ability to do so anyway, we gain new strength. That is what keeps me going seemingly against all odds of summitting a peak or finding a job.

I think this is probably true for anyone trying to make it through life.

When we lose faith, we have to choose to push through it knowing that it can only make us better people.

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