Saturday, January 11, 2020

Hanging by a thread - literally!

Sometimes I'm an idiot. And not just in the normal, open-mouth-and-insert-foot sort of way. I have the ability to be an idiot in the grandest, highest-stakes, end-your-life sort of ways. Let me tell you a story.

I may have mentioned a time or two that I've been an adventurer in my life. Climbing, rappelling, mountaineering, and subbing in a heavy metal band are just a few examples. Well, I've also spent a fair amount of time caving - also called spelunking.

On one such adventure, two friends and I decided to explore a pit cave, literally a vertical shaft into the earth. The opening to this particular cave was about twelve feet across and - we had been told - about 160 feet straight down. We secured the rope to a nearby tree, tossed it down the hole, and said, "Who's going first?"

Yep. It was me. I got on the rope with a rappelling device and a headlamp and started down the hole. The mistake we had made was that the rope was brand new. We had literally cut it out of its bindings less than five minutes before putting it down the shaft. Any experienced mountaineer will tell you that the rope needs breaking in before actually trusting it with your life.

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash
Well, about eighty feet down the shaft, the rope had tangled into a massive knot, and I was stuck. I couldn't go down, and I didn't have the necessary gear at hand to go back up. I was also out of hearing range of my companions. I had to do something fast.

It sounds a little MacGyver, but I ended up wrapping the rope around my leg to lock off my belay device, then I turned myself upside down and started untangling the rope. I'd get two feet at a time, then five feet, then another two. Each time I'd get upright, rappel down the length of rope I'd freed, then lock off and do it again.

It was painstaking, but eventually I reached the floor of the cavern with about fifteen feet of rope to spare, gave the signal on the rope, and my friends joined me.

"Dude! What took so long?"

My relief was immense. And I learned a valuable lesson about rappelling down into a cave on a new rope!

In the movie, "The Martian," the main character gets marooned on Mars and has to figure out a way to survive. If you haven't seen it yet, you may want to skip this next part. #spoileralert

The closing scene of the movie shows the main character talking to a class of would-be astronauts, and he explains one of the most powerful concepts about succeeding in life.

You can watch it here. 

Just solve one problem. Whatever's right in front of you, just tackle that.

When I was hanging on that rope with a huge knot below me, that wasn't the time to worry about anything but that knot. There would be other problems and challenges on that trip, but they absolutely had to wait. I couldn't do anything about the next problem until I'd tackled the one holding me back right then. I solved two feet, then five, then another two - and on until I reached safety.

So, in your music career, but also in your life, what's holding you back? What's the one thing that's right in front of you?

This year, I challenge you to take on the relevant, immediate things in your life so that you can get where you really want to be.

Happy drumming!

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