“I think we can make it. What do you think?”
The large boulder stood before us. Like the one in Indiana Jones but without the paper mache. This thing was for real. We were on a mission, my friend and I, to find a waterfall. He had navigated the trail before and knew the way to go. But now, approaching this boulder, something was off.
Examining our other routes, he said, “There used to be a rope around here or something.”
“Maybe they’re rebuilding the path?”
“It’s possible,” he said.
“I think we can climb over that thing,” I said, looking ahead. On either side of the boulder, wedged between it and the canyon walls, stood several smaller rocks. Ones that could be used as makeshift stepping stones. Or, more accurately put, rock climbing holds. We approached, thinking through the best path to take.
Scaling the boulder
The time for deliberation swiftly ended. I reached out and grabbed the hold slightly above eye level. Pulling myself up with one hand while balancing against the large boulder with the other, I managed to get off the ground. I moved my right foot into a crevice baked into the side of the wall. Now what to do with this left foot…
As I plotted out my next move, not being a rock climber by any means, a thought came over me: My wife would be so pissed if she saw how reckless I was being right now. It was in that instant that my right foot slipped. In my shrillest, most high-pitched squeal, I called out to my friend to catch me. There really wasn’t anything he could do, but it was what my instinct thought best.
Like a cat falling on all fours, I somehow managed to land feet first, avoiding any rocks to the head and getting away with just a single large scrape on my left arm. A scrape positioned directly next to my new tattoo. A tattoo of, ironically, a mountain. It was a fall I needed to have; I was being way too cocky.
Lost on the trail
With my friend and I both having unsuccessfully attempted the climb, we decided to backtrack, returning to a fork we had passed not too long ago. Those routes, too, proved unhelpful though, all leading to dead-ends.
“I know I’ve been here…” my friend said. “In fact, I think I’ve made this mistake before. Way earlier we had a chance to go left or right. We went right. We should’ve gone left. Let’s go back.” If we had made it to the top of that boulder, I have no idea where we would have ended up. Certainly not the waterfall. We may still be lost up there. Good thing we turned around.
Returning to the initial path that so detoured us, we now went left. “This makes a lot more sense,” I said, seeing other people actually on the trail. The path we were on before was mostly deserted and, frankly, barely even a path. This current trail was well-worn and filled with people making the same trip as us. Now on the correct path, it took no time at all before we indeed reached our end goal, the waterfall. Shrouded by cool shade and green brush, its beauty was well worth the hike.
Three ways to get up after falling on your face
In any endeavor, there is a chance that you may fall on your face (or arm, in my case). You may get hurt, you may trip, and you may shriek like a scared kindergartener. No matter. It’s on you to get up and try again. It’s not always easy and your ego will be bruised, but the alternative is to stay on the ground. And that’s not an option. So instead, stand up, evaluate your circumstances, and try the following three things.
1. Try again (if you can)
Assuming your self-image is more bruised than your actual body, tackle the challenge once more. See if you can get a better foothold. Try a different approach. Come at it from another angle. You may just be surprised how much more doable it is the second time around. Or, if you’re like me and are a little frightened by the close call with the rocks, move onto option two.
2. Find another route in that area
You decide that the path directly ahead of you isn’t the one to take. Instead of starting over though, move a few steps back. Is there a different route nearby that will get you to where you want to go? Look around. Test some things out. Don’t rush to decide. You have time. If you find a better path, take it. If not, if you’re like us and have decided that returning back to start is the best option, move onto option three.
3. Find a different way altogether
You crashed and burned and are back to start. It’s a good thing. It shows that you’re trying and learning. That’s a win in and of itself. And now that you’re here, look around once more. Is there a different way to go? Can you spot the initial decision that led you astray? Good. Avoid that one moving forward. Instead, take the other path. The one that seems just as promising, though in a slightly different direction.
If needed, ask for help. Back on the main road, there are surely people who know how to get to where you want to go. Ask for their guidance and, if possible, detailed instructions.
Get up and try, try again
In anything you do, you run the risk of falling on your face. When that happens, learn from the experience. Make of it what you can. Then, try the following three things:
- Try that path again but with an improved strategy.
- Go back a few steps and see if there’s a different route in that same direction.
- Return to start and determine an alternative way to go.
In life, it can be hard to tell if you’re staring at a boulder or a pebble. In either case, navigate it as best you can. And when you inevitably fall, get up and try, try again. So long as you keep trying, you will find the waterfall.