Two weeks ago, I wrote about
the human *my tendency to ruin a day worrying about something that never materializes. I called it a middle-of-the-story problem because we don’t know how the story will end, so we get stuck in thoughts and beliefs that aren’t useful.
Not knowing how the story will end is also known as uncertainty, and hindsight is called 20/20 for a reason.
It’s easy to make judgments and assessments after the fact, but we are handicapped during the action because we are in the middle of the story.
I’ll share another moment from our 8-day backpacking trip in the Wind River Range. It was more than a moment; it was half the day, a Top-10 scary afternoon for my friend and me. Or our final day hiking to the cars at the trailhead after having spent seven glorious days but eating nothing but freeze-dried food and rationed nuts and dried fruits, bathing in ice-cold alpine lakes, and sleeping on a pad in a tent. On my mind was the bag of New York Cheddar Kettle Chips sitting in my car for the return celebration, the hotel room booked with a hot shower, and our burger joint identified before we left. We had what we thought was a straightforward 7 ½ mile hike out to these items, all downhill for the day. Keywords: “What we thought.” Instead, the established trail we were on turned into a fork in the road with no signage.
We consulted our GPS and determined we needed to take the right turn. And soon, the trail faded to nothing. We consulted our GPS and walked blindly until again we found the trail. Eventually, we found ourselves atop a ridge with no way to get to the lake we could see below other than to bushwack down the steep ridgeline that had seen a severe wind storm a few years back and was covered in tree fall. We spent hours working our way up and over trees and under, removing our packs and putting them back on as needed. We wondered how many miles we’d have to do this for. We started to get nervous. My friend had a panic attack after she hurt her hand. We took inventory of our food in case we had to spend another night out. I didn’t even want to eat, I was so nervous, but we made ourselves have something.
That’s about when I realized that this was going to make a really good story when it was over, so I started taking photos.
I never have photos of the scary stuff because I’m so sure I’m about to die that I don’t bother documenting it.
So this moment was a change for me. It was like helicoptering out of my body and looking down at the situation from afar. I had this moment of awareness that this, too, shall pass, so let’s get some photos because we are going to LOVE looking back at how hard it was to get out that day!
That shift changed my mood just a little. I was still pretty nervous, and it sucked, but knowing I would get to look back on it gave me some comfort. (and returning to Chris Heider’s Useful Beliefs, let’s just say I wouldn’t get the chance to look back on it, having that belief is certainly not useful)
So I acted as if, and took this photo:
And this photo.
Then this one:
We laughed, and I said out loud: This will make one heck of a story. Since I’m here writing about it and sharing the photos, I think you know the outcome.
Resilience in the face of uncertainty starts with awareness of where you are on the time continuum. It starts with awareness but resolves through action. Climb over this tree, go under this tree, one tree at a time. We made it to the trail, and I kissed the dirt. I was so happy. (No one documented)
Standing still in the face of uncertainty will not move you forward.
So, what’s the first thing you can do now?
Take care out there.
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