The Power In Hard Times
Challenging Times Create Opportunities for Growth
“It’s Gonna Get Worse Before It Gets Better” - Noah Trainer
Hard times can pose powerful challenges and hidden opportunities. This summer, while tackling the notorious Gamble portage on my canoe trip in Ontario, the challenge of facing hard times was never more present in my life. The physical challenge on Gamble — walking 4 kilometers uphill through the untamed Canadian bush in a violent thunder storm, with canoes and wanigans weighing us down — was matched only by the mental challenge of trying to get through it all. On this demanding portage, I confronted one of my most strenuous experiences ever, as exhaustion spread into my limbs and pain made itself known with every additional step.
As I made my first step on the terrain, I tried to steel myself for how hard the coming hours would be. With each heavy step, the pain grew a little more, yet my determination to finish outpaced its growth. Carrying the 17 foot crimson wooden Chesnut canoe overhead, I felt a burning sensation radiating down my neck and spine, with my heart pumping furiously and sweat dripping out of every pore in my body. Every muscle in my body throbbed with pain, and despite taking one step after another, the mountain seemed never ending and out of reach. I worried that I had wrecked my body, that it would never be the same, and knowing that I still had kilometers of land left to cover chewed at my morale. I could not, would not, quit, but it felt like spears were being shot through my body from below while the weight of the boat was crushing down on my head from above. Despite that, I did not quit.
The experience of portaging the Gamble was a supreme challenge; I had never felt such immense pain and physical exhaustion before. But I learned that even though I hated the pain in the moment, the experience of having achieved it is one I would readily do again. Successfully completing the Gamble required a new level of physical and mental endurance from me, and now I can look back and feel proud that I persevered. This experience has also taught me to deal with challenges as they come, to not be blindsided by them, and to understand that they are opportunities to grow and learn from
I left some of my boyhood when I walked out of the gamble. So what experiences changed you the most?