Ranger Kathryn's Arches

April 26, 2010

BTR: Battle won

More knots I've learned to tie: Radium Release Hitch (a load-releasing hitch to lengthen the line if needed) with long and short Tandem Prusiks

(Continued from previous post)

This was no ordinary battle; it was within myself, and between two opposing parts of me. Anyone who has ever entertained “I can” and “I can’t” at the same time knows what I’m talking about.

Let’s look at this improbable situation. You take a bunch of toned, intelligent, wilderness-skilled, rock-climbing, strong, motivated, mostly-young (mean age late 20s) park rangers from around the country and send them to Rescue School. Then you throw in a 53-year-old mom who has rappelled only a couple dozen times, has no upper body strength, has never packed a backpack, gets confused by physics and couldn’t tie any knots other than her shoes. An improbable scenario — but it was reality.

Crazy, I tell you! But, for some reason, everything in me resonated when I first read about this training back in January. I knew that I knew that I knew that I wanted to apply for this. My supervisor’s “You’ll never get in, but you can apply” didn’t deter me, and my lack of knot skills was just a (large) speed bump that I needed to navigate. I believe the real test was deep within. I had nothing to prove to anyone; I had only to validate my abilities to myself, and discover what well of strength I could draw on. Maybe folks who climb Mt Everest have the same motivations.

The week was a rigorous lesson in listening to my heart. The gutsy, fearless, can-do part of my heart was wanting the challenge; the realistic/reasonable part was screaming, “What were you THINKING?!?!” (“I can,” “I can’t…”) But there I was, no backing out, no discussion between Heart 1 and Heart 2 — just jump in and DO THE THING. My greatest difficulty was in resisting the temptation to compare myself with others, and that was the huge chasm into which I fell on Day 3.

I had to have The Talk with myself at that low point: “You are unique. Your worth and value do not depend on your abilities, success, intellect, wit, strength, or competency. You are you. Bring what you have to the table, and quit looking at everyone else’s proficiency.” That was a turning point. It was a lesson I clearly had to learn. I am quite certain I haven’t fully learned it yet, but this was a crucial opportunity. I have got to quit measuring my worth against others.

I will be pondering these things, and the many more that come up from this course, for some time.

Certificate of Completion

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