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Injured and Abroad in Vietnam

Injured and Abroad in Vietnam

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Hidden Valley, Cat Ba, Vietnam

Ever since I can remember, there are two qualities that stand out a lot when I think of myself.

Ever since I can remember, there are two qualities that stand out a lot when I think of myself.

These two qualities are not ones I am especially proud – anxiousness and perfectionism.

Ever since I started traveling about 10 weeks ago, I never realized how distracted I was from just being present in my “old” life.

Sure, I would meditate for 10-20 minutes in the morning but what about the other 1,430 minutes in the day?

Much of it was filled with work and other obligations and activities. Feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, fears, and doubts could fairly easily be drowned out by the noise of daily life.

It is different when you are traveling long-term.

There are many times of boredom and nothingness. Questions begin to arise about whether it is ok to just relax and do nothing or am I just “wasting” my time?

Being still in the moment and just “being” is a challenge for someone who has had such a strong experience with anxiousness and perfectionism. Some moments I look out into the corner of the world that I happened to be experiencing at the moment and possess a deep sense of gratitude. Other times I am filled with stress and anxiety and questions of doubt.

What I am realizing more and more is there is no perfect reality out there. There is no scenario in life that is going to make all of your problems go away. Every scenario and permutation of life has upsides and downsides.

Unfortunately for me, whether it is nature or nurture or a combination of the two, I tend to obsess about the downside or challenges associated with things. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach.

This usually isn’t so bad if it is something within my control.

Where I really run into trouble is when I am dealing with something outside of my control.

Many times I obsess and obsess until it drives me crazy.

For example, I have an old hip injury that has been acting up on me recently. I hurt it about 5 years ago and from time to time it still flares up pretty bad. I have literally tried just about everything I know to get this thing resolved but nothing seems to completely resolve it.

What is funny is that I help so many people resolve their health issues, but the hardest patient I have ever had is myself.

This issue acted up on me again right before our last big rock climbing trip to SE Asia. My mind started racing like it usually does. What if this thing keeps me from climbing? What if this never really goes away? How am I going to be able to climb hard and do all of the adventures and sports that I love to do? What is going to happen if this gets worse and I have to give up on so much of what I love?

 Once I am able to see past the immediacy of the emotional trauma that I am feeling and somewhat self-inflicting through the questions I am asking myself, I do what I do best.

Take massive action.

 I take massive action in regards to my physical health by reaching out to practitioners and experts in my life that could help me. I spend hours doing myofascial work, stretching, mobility, and muscle activation work.

I then work on my emotional wellbeing through meditation, writing, and asking myself better questions.

This is the most challenging part for me.

The technique that I find helps me most is this: What if what I fear most happens? What if I am limited in physical sports and adventure for the rest of my life? What would I do and how would I still find happiness and fulfillment?

I love these series of questions because if you can still find fulfillment and purpose even in the worst case scenario, then what you fear most loses its power over you.

Then I can get back to doing the real work. And the real work is taking massive action on everything that is within my control and working on the emotional aspect of accepting, and maybe even embracing, the things that are outside of my control.

I am still learning to let go more and more and lean into discomfort.

What I believe is that happiness should not be the goal. It is too dependent on our emotions in the moment.

And let’s be real. If you are really trying to experience a truly extraordinary life, it takes a lot of struggle. But the key is to struggle through the things that are worth struggling through and are most important to you.

The goal should be fulfillment, growth, and contribution. It should be finding peace and presence and curiosity in the moment. Sometimes those moments feel like crap and other times they feel great.

Either way, lean into it.

- Matt Westheimer

Cat Ba, Vietnam

The Struggle is Real

Cat Ba, Vietnam

Cat Ba, Vietnam

We are hanging 120 feet off the ground from an overhanging roof on the side of a mountain protected only by a harness that we clipped into 2 titanium bolts drilled into the roof.

Our legs are dangling underneath us are starting to lose feeling and go numb from the pressure of the harness’s leg straps. As we reach up to change our gear and prepare to repel ourselves down the side of the cliff, the harness digs in deeper into our inner thigh and cuts off more and more feeling. We have no choice. We have to keep going.

Many times throughout our week of rock climbing I found myself vacillating between moments of intense elation and extreme frustration.

Almost Giving Up

After “onsighting” (a term used for going up a route the first time without falling or stopping) a couple of challenging routes, I found myself in a euphoric state of accomplishment. This was coupled with a future route that should have been a cake walk in which I found myself almost giving up on due to the frustration of not being able to get past a certain point.

Truth be told I actually did give up on it. I got lowered back down, but in a moment of persistence and courageousness, I decided to not give up and gave it another go.

This time I made it.

I was really close to giving up, but I am glad I didn’t.

Great Metaphor For Life

I love rock climbing as a metaphor for life.

Things are going to be really hard at times. Things in life are going to be really uncomfortable and sometimes very painful. It’s important to keep going.

Sometimes you are going to want to give up – especially when no one is looking. It is in these moments of deciding whether to give up or not that your character is truly tested.

Don’t give up. Keep moving forward.

A great way to practice this is to put yourselves in situations where giving up is not an option.

I do that by putting myself in a position where I am hanging from a mountain 120 feet off the ground. Your way might be a bit different.

Either way, find your 120-foot cliff.

Sincerely,

Matt Westheimer