I’ve been going through a rough emotional time recently. The reasons aren’t necessarily important for this blog. Just know that I ended up crying while sitting on the bathroom floor fairly early in the morning a couple of days ago.
Before I proceed, please consider three things:
- Yes, it’s OK for dudes to cry.
- Dudes shouldn’t do things that make the people they love the most — or themselves — cry.
- Dudes, if you do cry, pick a more comfortable spot than the bathroom floor.
So with my butt resting on the hard, tile floor, my back against the hard, tile bathtub surround and my heart between a rock and a hard place, I found myself deep in painful thought and experiencing raw emotions about regrets. I was playing a gut-wrenching could’ve-would’ve-should’ve game when I felt some inspiration.
Pull yourself together.
Pick yourself up.
Go for a walk.
I live in the foothills of the southwest corner of the beautiful Salt Lake Valley. There are trails in the mountains near my house, but I’ve never actually been on them. About a year and a half ago, I made some life-changing goals that I wanted to accomplish in 2015. One goal was to climb up to the top of the mountain in front of my house. I’d guess it rises 2,000 to 2,500 feet above my home’s elevation.
Despite my good intentions, I never stepped foot on the trail or the mountain. Instead, I returned to the bad habits that led to me packing on enough fat to be 215 pounds overweight. Could’ve. Would’ve. Should’ve.
There’s another trail at the top of my street and at the base of that peak I never attempted climbing. It leads to a smaller mountain — probably 1,000 feet higher than our house — that you can see from my backyard. It’s quite common to see neighborhood kids hike up there, but I’d never attempted that hike, either.
That changed on a whim Thursday.
I was planning on just walking around my hilly neighborhood when I got the idea to just get on the trail and see what it’s like. Kindly, somebody even left a perfectly sized hiking stick (tree branch) for me at the trailhead.
Since I hadn’t planned on going on a hike, I didn’t take water, so that was not brilliant, but I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with nature — thankfully not the rattlesnake part of nature — on that spontaneous climb. (By the way, instead of music, I listened to a recent speech given about my particular dilemma by one of my favorite spiritual leaders. Strangely, it felt like Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who’s in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints, wrote his talk just for me. The message still fills my heart with hope and determination.)
Honestly, the mountains we live on aren’t as rugged or spectacularly beautiful as the majestic peaks that tower over the eastern edge of our valley — the mountains associated with Salt Lake City. Even so, I found it quite serene and scenic to be traversing on a clear trail through the cedar bushes, sage brush and wild weeds with insanely awesome views of my neighborhood and valley.
This particular trail gradually switches back and forth, making it a fairly easy hike. I did get tired — and thirsty! — a couple of times and almost called it a morning about half-way up. But I decided to keep moving forward to see what it was like on top of this small mountain.
My reaction when a bush next to the trail rustled as I approached probably would’ve gone viral. I stopped in my tracks, fearful that I was going to be eaten by a snake. I poked the branches and ground for a few seconds, stepped to the other side of the trail and quickly darted past the bush. I’d say I risked my life in a brave moment of courage, but it was probably just a squirrel and not a venomous rattler.
Eventually, I made it to the top of the trail and discovered that this wasn’t the top of the summit, so, after taking a selfie (of course!) I started climbing the final few hundred yards up the somewhat rocky side of the hill.
About an hour or so after I’d been sitting on my bathroom floor crying about a significant trial I’m facing, I was unexpectedly standing on top of a small mountain.
The breeze was delightful. The view of the entire valley was spectacular. The feeling of accomplishment of doing that — in addition to my 80-pound weight loss since early March — rejuvenated my tormented soul.
I was so excited and proud about this impromptu hike that I texted my wife and asked her to send the kids out onto our deck so they could see me waving my hiking stick on top of the mountain (while wearing a blue Nike shirt with the facetious phrase, “Perfect role model”).
The quiet morning air soon filled with young voices yelling, “Good job, Dad!” After we yelled back and for for a few minutes, my two youngest sons called my cell phone to congratulate me. My 3-year-old, Jack, insisted that I stay up there on the rocks for some humorous reason.
I was thirsty, so I decided to come back down and then they all congratulated this sweaty man again when I returned home.
It was blissful.
The significant life challenge I’m facing didn’t go away because I climbed a small mountain. I’ve got a much, much larger metaphorical mountain to climb in that regard. I believe it’s a defining moment for me that I’m choosing to work through this period by turning to God and self-improvement instead of trying to medicate my heavy heart with unhealthy food.
Thanks to a decision to move around instead of mope around and to pull myself out of my agonizing pit of despair, I went from feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders to feeling like I was standing on top of the world.
As I later told neighbors who saw me by their yard at the end of my hike, “It felt good to have salty drops of water on my face from sweat instead of tears.”
- Starting weight (March 6): 373.7 pounds
- Last week’s weight (July 22): 298.6
- This week’s weight (July 29): 293.3
- This week’s loss: 5.3 pounds
- Total loss: 80.4 pounds