One of my biggest fears in life is driving. I’m scared of the beeps and honks from other people. I’m scared of not seeing the person behind me and getting hit. I’m scared of highways. I’m scared of all the lanes, signs, turns, and signals. I’m scared of feeling not in control.
But as with anything in life, when I’m scared of something, the more I seem to want to do it. Just to prove to myself that I can do it. And on my last trip to Mount Rainier, the tallest mountain in Washington state last week, I did just that.
Just to give you a little bit of background info, Mount Rainier is one of the tallest mountains in the Pacific Northwest cascade that extends from Northern California to British Columbia (Canada). It is also the most glaciated (according to Wikipedia).
In July, the snow was halfway through melting but you can still see a lot of snow patches throughout the hike and on top of the peaks.
A Hiking Adventure
On an early Saturday morning, my friend and I rented a car, bought a pile of food, and set out from the Seattle area for a full day of hiking. My friend already knew I was afraid of driving so he agreed to do all of it, which isn’t so bad considering it’s only 2 hours.
But like so many adventures, we ended up getting lost. We ended up passing the trail we wanted to hike by an hour and after 3 hours of driving, I could tell my friend was getting tired. I also felt bad that I was able to sit in comfort and enjoy all the views while he had to focus on the road, so I offered to drive.
He said, “Are you sure?”
I said, “Yeah. It doesn’t look that bad, just follow the yellow lines in the middle, right?” Because if we don’t, we’ll fall off a mountain. But I didn’t say that part aloud.
Moments of silence ensued.
I said, “Do you think I can do it?”
He said, “Only you can answer that.”
So I did. I took the wheels and started driving. At first, it was a little bit shaky as I tried to get used to the brake and accelerator, but after a few minutes, I was smooth sailing down those cliffs and I realized, I actually kind of enjoyed it. It was a thrill!
Unbeknownst to me, I am much better at driving down curvy roads than straight ones. I especially loved going downhill when all I had to do was press on the brake occasionally and fly down the roads. Being out there in the open wilderness, with hundreds of pine trees, and snow-capped mountains, I felt safe and calm.
An hour later, we finally made it back to the hiking trail that we were supposed to be on and although we were a bit groggy, our spirits came back as soon we saw this:
There we stood in silence for a few moments.
We breathed in the cool snow air, soaked up the warm sun, and smelled the scent of earth, my favorite smell.
And as we climbed, I thought, “I did it again. I did something that I didn’t think I can.” And it all happened because instead of focusing on my own fear of driving, I shifted it into helping my friend and all of a sudden, it became much less scary.
See what you can do when you make your goal about helping someone else instead of about you?