I recently returned from a two week bike trip to New Zealand. The weather was fine and the group I was with were great companions. We biked 25 to 40 miles each day through rainforest roads filled with the song of birds unique to the south island of New Zealand. Each day presented challenges of “wee hills” or undulations as our guides called them. They did not want us to freak out before we even began to bike because of the knowledge that a hill of good proportions faced us that day.
On some of the rides, there were hills that had names such as Mt. Hercules, “the triple by-pass or three sisters,” and Haast Pass. I was privileged to ride over only one of these hills: Mt. Hercules. Honestly, I was more concerned about riding down the hill than peddling up, though going up this steep grade was indeed a challenge. I had to be in the “granny” gear most of the ride up. However, I used the mantra I learned from my yoga teacher. She had shared a story about being frustrated at not being able to simply glide up hills like she saw others who were bigger than her doing. She spent her time berating her self for not being stronger until one of the more experienced riders told her this secret: “hills are hard.”
Life is like facing these hills. If we continually worry about what we are going to face, we might never take the first step to try something new. Sometimes we can scare ourselves out of wonderful opportunities because we already assume we “can’t do it.” Or when we are in the middle of doing something that is challenging we might add to the challenge by beating ourselves up mentally–thinking we are doing it so much worse than everyone else. When we do this we tend to compare ourselves unfairly to people that are more skill or experienced. Of course, we come up short. Rather motivating us to do our best, this approach tends to lead to discouragement and loss of hope. But if we remind ourselves that challenges are hard (that is why they are called challenges) then we can take it slow but steady and make it to our goal. Whether it is to the top of a hill where a gorgeous view is awaiting us or the finishing of a arduous task, the finish line is usually worth the effort. And then we can relax and take the wild ride down the hill!