Thanks for coming along on my trip into the Grand Canyon. I have enjoyed sharing it with you and hope you have enjoyed seeing a part of it that a great many people never have the opportunity to view.
When we perform an Iai training with our Soke (the head of our sword school), we must submit a report of the experience with what we have learned during the training. This seems a worthy endeavor for an experience which changes one’s life; I therefore present my Rule Of Five for Down and Up Again (Rule of Five of course, because I have five fingers on my hand. It makes it easy to remember):
1) We can do more than we think: Prior to this hike, I had never hiked anything like the distance we went, nor had I done anything like descended a canyon or climbing up a rock slide or the 50 other things I did that was completely new to me on this trip. Had you asked me before the hike, I would that, not knowing better, I just went and did them.
2) The reasons we do not live our dreams is us more than our circumstances: On this tour, I met guides who have made a life out of what the love. But in reality, I also made an experience where none had previously existed. I could have come up with any number of reasons not to make this commitment: money, time, commitment to training, physical ability. But I managed those in such a way that I accomplished this trip and its goals, which were simple ones: 1) Do not die; 2) Get out of the canyon. How many other things are dependent far less on my circumstances and far more on what I am willing to do?
3) To get anywhere worth going requires effort: The views I have been able to share with you happened because I went down into the Canyon. If I did not go down, the pictures I would give you are the ones of the Canyon Rim, the same that many others share as their total view of the Grand Canyon. There is nothing wrong with those pictures of course; but the better ones are only found by going to where the rocks and river are, not standing on the edge with a telephoto lens.
4) Guides in unfamiliar territory make all the difference in the world: One of the questions that came up in our descent was “How many people have died here?” There are numbers of course, and one can look them up, but one of our guides – Storyteller – said that no-one has died that has been on a guided tour or hike. That makes sense: a guide knows the trail, knows the needs, knows the dangers. At some point perhaps we can make our own way, but to do so in the beginning without a guide carries a much higher degree of risk.
5) Adventure really is (still) out there, but we do have to go and get it: If I were to liken myself to a literary character on this hike, I would compare myself to Bilbo Baggins (he of The Hobbit): a middle-aged man with his books and his home and his comfortable life, reading about adventure all the time but never really thinking he could or would go on one. The reality is that one can still go on adventures, but one has to take a very important first step: one simply has to say “yes” to going on them at all. Once that happens, a world of possibilities becomes available.
This experience has been encouraging to me in a way that I had not expected. Yes, I have signed up for another one next year – not to the Grand Canyon, but to somewhere different. Training started last week and I have 9 months to get ready.
But that is okay. Because now, I know I can do it.