Many of you already know that I went Rim to Rim across the Grand Canyon this year…what an experience! As you will see from the photos and video, the landscape was breathtaking, the terrain challenging, the heat draining and the storm slightly frightening. What was most amazing about going Rim to Rim was finishing, looking back over the trail that I had just traversed and experiencing the sense of having accomplished something I’ve wanted to do for many years. Finishing the rim to rim in a decent amount of time (especially for a non-endurance athlete) and knowing I could do it alone (not planned!) were also great feelings, but all in all I think the greatest thing I learned from going Rim to Rim was finding my way to the other side of “me”.
When you look at the Grand Canyon from either rim you cannot help but get a sense of scale in how vast and magnificent the earth is and how small we are in comparison. The views of the canyon are sublime and from each rim and has you travel down, across and up you cannot help but experience the unexpectedly profound silence of the enormous landscape. Being at the bottom of the Grand Canyon reminded me of the silence of being underwater, almost like in some distant part of the mind you instinctively connected with the fact that the enormous space had once been completely submerged water.
Once I completed this challenge and looked from the North Rim back along the path I had taken from the South Rim I felt very satisfied with what I had done. As I expected, when I looked back over the trail I felt accomplished physically, but what was unexpected and even more powerful was the mind-body experience and mental shift that started to take place when I took my first of 49,800 steps across the canyon and continues now, a full month later.
Just like everyone else, I have many goals in life and my share of challenges. The mental (maybe even spiritual?) part of my experience going rim to rim was learning to recognize and address the psychological blocks that prevent me from achieving my goals or overcoming challenges. At this point in life, I have achieved only some of my most important goals. One of the challenges that prevents me from reaching some of my goals is being a very distracted person with many different thoughts going on in my mind all at the same time. Being this way is actually pretty fun because you tend to notice many things others don’t and you tend to see the world differently. But this also means I have a tendency to set many goals at once or start in one direction and then get distracted and go in 10 (or more) directions. For me, being in a never ending thought tornado means it takes a while to sort through and determine which ideas and thoughts actually align with my goals and aspirations and which are just creative distractions. Starting and finishing is more like starting and never-ending (as in saga, volume 1,2,3, etc.). Somehow, in that deep silence I was able to see clearly, in a way I not seen before, what it is that keeps turning me around in circles.
Going Rim 2 Rim was a “bucket list” idea (one of the 1000’s) I had about 3-4 years ago. Never did I realize that it would be more than “a cool achievement”. I didn’t realize how vast and beautiful the Grand Canyon really is, and I never in a million years expected to experience such personal growth from going rim to rim. Not only did I get to experience unexpected breath-taking views of going 1 mile down and 1 mile up in an ancient dessert-to-mountain landscape, I was able to finish and look back knowing I had just achieved something personally significant. I had gone start to finish without taking 5000 left turns and circling back 22oo times and I felt it more mentally than anything else. Going rim to rim helped me to memorize that feeling.
There is another side to this story that include how I prepared for the trek across the canyon, what almost made me decide not to do it, why I ended up going rim to rim alone, the amazing support I received from friends and family and a funny dream that actually spurred me on. But I feel these details take away from the true lesson I learned on this adventure which was: “how to get to the other side of me”.
We all have goals and and it is in facing our challenges and driving forward toward our goals that we grow, become better and go beyond. I don’t think I am alone in my sense of accomplishment or the type of experience I had going rim to rim, I’ve personally heard accounts and read many more stories of adventures planned as a goal of physical achievement turning into something far beyond. Yes, we are all unique and everyone has a different take on life, but I would be surprised if anyone, regardless of our unique differences, would go rim to rim across the Grand Canyon without learning more about who they are as a person and finding a path to another “side” or aspect of themselves, a path to a personal goal or the path to who they want to become.