I recently went to Honolulu with my sister for a short get-away. I'm not much for sunshine or beaches (unbelievably, my preference is mild cities), so this was one of those poor life choices. But I needed to get away and I would have purchased a ticket straight to the ninth circle of hell if they had pineapple and somewhere I could have a lie down.
On our one very active day, we decided to climb the Diamond Head Crater. This is not a particularly challenging climb at just over a kilometer, the crater summit is some 560 feet from the floor. It's accessible to all sorts of people; old people with canes and toddles were ambling up, so it wasn't exactly Kilimanjaro. I was nervous having to climb on uneven terrain in heat, which isn't my favourite thing in the world. My sister and I traversed a number of switchbacks, seeking refuge against the rockface when it faced away from the sun and drinking water like we had crossed the desert.
After climbing a whole bunch of stairs that make up the last few feet of the trail, I was pretty well done. I might not have mentioned that I'm also afraid of heights, so this was already a feat for me. The very last climb involves a short metal ladder that takes you to the very summit where the lookout point is. With encouragement from my sister and some very wobbly knees, I managed to climb up without crying and falling into a crumpled pile among the hordes of tourists. The views all along the way had been spectacular, giving us everything from ocean vistas to cityscapes to the natural beauty of the crater itself. The last few steps didn't improve that view much more, but the sense of accomplishment was more than I had expected.
I was surprised. I don't hike often, so I never really know what people are prattling on about and I've never really seen the appeal.
Being above the earth and having a bird's eye view was a refreshing perspective. We tend to focus on the big picture in our lives. We view the world from the same pair of eyes that we are given and after a while, that view goes stale. We see the same scenes and we forget that it is valuable to move to another viewpoint once in a while.
With a tough year emotionally behind me, I had been viewing my world and treating it the same way, hoping that something would change. An actual, physical change in perspective showed me that I'm capable of different and new. It was a bit of a butt-kick in some ways.
When we are forced to face circumstances that we have never before encountered, we can't always use the same solutions that are in our arsenal to solve them. We need to be creative about how we approach those challenges. We might need to climb a slightly different mountain or switch to the other side of the rockface to approach it differently. This doesn't have to be an actual mountain you climb. We can't all jet off to islands every time a problem needs solving. But it's infinitely valuable to ask yourself, how can I come at this differently?
Valuable solutions often come from a slight shift in gaze. I don't think I'll ever be an avid outdoorswoman. (is that a thing?) It's not in my nature. What I have learned is that I'll climb the occasional mountain, wobbly knees and sweaty brow so I can see the world a little bit differently than I do from down here. How we see something is often just as important as what we see, and what we search for.