By Baskaran Sekaran

There is an inescapable rhythm my heart assumes as I approach an adventure. Something incomparable to anything else in life and can only be paralleled by loves first glance. There is no regret, apologies, or ambitions. No dissident relationships. Just utter freedom to embrace the dark warrior. Ego is slowly dissolved by the immersion of the wild. The canopies of the evergreens embrace me like iron embraces the fire. Rock faces entice me like the seductiveness of love. As I take all this in on my approach, my heart pounds like a thousand drums announcing war.

The trek up the mountain begins with sweat and gasps for air. The first mile is no doubt the challenge. Every single step is laborious and it never ceases to surprise me. The pack digs into my body and feels like a 100lbs. My legs get shaky and burn with the desire to quit..

After that first mile it becomes easier. I start to glide seamlessly over the rocks. Then it becomes a game of interference. How can I make this MORE difficult? When I had that thought it hit me. BOOM. A smack in the face. This is how all challenges in life go.

When we are stuck with a challenge it is often like these hikes I go on… they start out HARD. Huffing and puffing and wanting to quit. Most people do quit! But then it gets “easier.” It isn’t that the hike or, the challenge is easier. In fact, it gets harder. My PERCEPTION of the hike gets easier.

Before people reach that level of perception, they quit. By quit I mean, ignoring their problems, burying then until they show up again later, WORSE. Some freak out and amplify the challenge 100 times worse than it really is. Most people turn the challenge into a problem and when you think about things as a problem you start to get defensive and when you get defensive you cannot take action:

You can only react.

What if every hike I went on I thought of that first mile as a problem instead of a challenge? What if I reacted to my lungs burning and my legs shaking? I can tell you right now I would quit. I would find and easier hike. That is a mistake. If you think of every challenge in your life as a problem and you seek out the easiest way to resolve that “problem” then you will NEVER reach the promise land.


The top of a mountain, interacting with bears, finding snakes, this is my spirituality. Sometimes it is tough but what I have learned by doing it is priceless. I am going to very quickly give you 6 things I learned from my adventures. 6 things to help you turn your “problems” into challenges.

  1. Listen more than you talk. Magic happens when you can be quiet and receptive to your surroundings. Nature is the best place to practice but when you can bring it back to your life that is when you will rise above the rest. Listen to your emotions before you react to them. Often times you won’t even need to react.
  2. Embrace the initial struggle, make later struggles a game. This is a weird one, I know. I am not fibbing when I say I Want to quit the first mile every hike. I learned to embrace it, let my body get used to it. When I get warmed up the other, often harder struggle towards the top turn into a game and guess what? GAMES ARE FUN.
  3. The ascent will hurt! You will fall and get scrapes. Your muscles will cramp. The summit is all worth it. When you have something that is truly important there will be times you hate it. Marriage is a great example. It is hard work. People these days are too quick to call it quits. We harp on things and let it deter us from reaching the summit!
  4. Look for ways to make it fun. I have a long standing tradition where I sprint down the mountain. Dangerous? Sure but it is some of the best fun I have ever had. When a challenge seems so hard and you want to quit. Take your mind off of the bad and focus on the good. Make it a game!
  5. Focus on what is in front of you. I am not one to look ahead too often. I want to live in the moment. When I hike I look down at my steps and when I reach a point of true beauty I stop and take it in. In life, you can’t look in the past and you can’t look too far forward. Be present. That is where the beauty lies.
  6. Don’t lose your imagination. As kids, we are almost fearless. I believe that has a lot to do with imagination. On a hike, I imagine a lot of things. Some would freak you out so I won’t go there but my imagination is so rampant I forget about fear. I am free. I try to bring that into my life as well. I will say that this is one of the reasons my son and I have such great adventures and he is only 2!
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    “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” You are more than what you think if you believe there is more than what you know.