We can get confidence when we create by doing the daily work and leaning into challenges by simply showing up.
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’
then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
~Vincent Van Gogh
I have been enjoying daily, sunrise hikes to the summit of Whiteside Mountain this winter. The mountaintop trail has its own, unique climate given its elevation (4,500′ – 4,931′), as well as hazards posed by snow, ice, steep terrain, cavernous gullies, and rocky outcroppings.
After the first snowfall, I defaulted to being very cautious and cut my hikes short as I encountered more challenging conditions toward the summit. I found myself so focused on not falling, turning an ankle, or slipping off the trail, that my walking meditation was derailed in favor of just trying to stay upright.
Soon, my hikes lost their buoyancy and began to feel like more of a trudge than an opportunity to connect with Nature and my thoughts, while enjoying the sensation of working my body against the slope. The more hesitant I was to place a boot down on snow or ice, the less connected to the experience I became.
When the cleats arrived, I was excited (but still skeptical) to try them on and take them for a test hike. They stretched perfectly over the bottom of my hiking boots and fit securely. I set out and tested them on a few patches of ice before leaning fully into trusting their traction.
I was amazed. With the traction cleats, I could walk on ice with as much ease, confidence, and sure-footedness as I could on bare ground.
Since my cleats arrived, I have been out on a hike every day, regardless of how inclement the weather is, how much snow has fallen, or how many inches of ice cover the granite slopes. I place my feet with a rhythm now, in sync and feeling relaxed and assured, regardless of the challenges posed by the changing surfaces.
My confidence has grown—not just with winter hiking—but also in other areas where I have held myself back…timid to try…afraid I’ll fall. Sloping terrain that is not on a mountain trail, but rather at my desk where I write or at the table where I paint.
I’m now coming to my Art…all my work…with a different cadence and a different posture.
Leaning into Challenges
I’ve shifted from defaulting to leaning back—waiting—hoping for more willingness before venturing forward, to more of a stance of leaning toward the creative challenge before me.
This is very new.
When I think about the root of my newfound confidence, I look toward the summit of this ancient mountain. I choose to not frame summiting its peak as a foe to conquer, but instead as an awe-inspiring partner that is an integral part of my daily routine.
This perfectly parallels my experience as an entrepreneur and a creator.
When I suit up each morning and do the daily work in front of me, the voice that says “you cannot create” is silenced. The moment I engage with a pen, my laptop, a sketch pad, or paints, the voice turns away and waits to see if I come back to the work tomorrow.
And I do.
I now know that the daily rhythm of my willingness to show up for my creativity is the same as placing my cleated boots onto the ice. I’ll take the first, second, and third steps. I won’t focus on falling.
I’ll let the frozen slush crunch and give me feedback that the trail is ultimately friendly and a place where I can touch something deep within me that I may later share.