This I Believe

Kim - Tenafly, New Jersey
Entered on September 6, 2007

When asked what I believe in, my first thought took me towards an image of the unbelievable. I traveled away from the university and back to my world; one with miles upon miles of limitless sky. I saw my friends, the gigantic snow-capped mountains who lined the horizon. They were shamelessly aware that their existence remained unknown to anyone but us. As these massive structures opened both their arms, and their treachery, to our group of enthusiasts, I realized it is they who represent the way I live my everyday life. I took a look around and understood my calling. Only through exploration, could I really find myself.

Exploring the unordinary allows me to test the life I live and learn from the experience. I enjoy getting to know someone that I would not ordinarily converse with, or drive and venture an unfamiliar area. Such a mentality, even on a small, everyday scale is effective in allowing me to learn about myself through unusual relationships and unfamiliar surroundings. To mentally or physically travel into the unknown is to truly test yourself. Through such exploration, risk, and adventure, you can really learn what you are all about.

This mentality that I have is derived from one experience that I try to carry with me every day. I try to constantly remind myself of its teachings and abide by the limitless nature of such an experience. Three years ago, I spent a month with the National Outdoor Leadership School in the Waddington Mountain range in British Columbia. For the duration of the expedition, fourteen of us lived in tents on the Homathko Icefield as mountaineers bound by nothing but our own strength and willpower. While our trip lacked such “necessities” as a shower or fresh food, we learned the importance of group dynamics and were bound by the strengths of each other.

At one point during the trip, four of us were summiting a peak near our base camp. I was leading the rope team, and thus in charge of setting the proper anchors in the snow in case one of us was to lose our balance. About 400 feet up the side of the mountain, I dug out the necessary “T” anchor and placed in the protection, and continued to climb onward. All of a sudden my instructor signaled for me to stop and said, “Kim, Fall.” Unknown to such a command, I just stood there in awe. Was it the 400 foot drop below me, or the absurdity of his command that puzzled me? As I questioned this, I heard him again, “Kim, Fall.” And there it was, a true test of my skill in setting this anchor, would it hold? Furthermore, was I confident enough to test it? “Kim, Fall.” I fell. And 6 feet later, my anchor caught me.

To me, this experience taught me the importance of taking risks, knowing that for me, reward only comes if I successfully push my boundaries. To explore outside of my comfort zone showed me the importance of change, adventure, and bravery. My “fall” tested my strength both as a climber and as an individual, and I learned the value in exploration and exposure to a world unlike anything else.