It’s one thing to experience accomplishments. But it’s far more to experience accomplishments you have undeniably earned- accomplishments that require you to push through when everything inside you begs to give up.
At 22 years old, I had my first spine surgery. Severe degeneration in my joints caused one of my discs to collapse. 22 years later, I’ve now had six surgeries to repair the collapse of several more discs.
For more than two decades, I’ve lived everyday with significant pain. One of the things that makes managing this so difficult is when my ambitions are greater than my capabilities. When I want to play with my two girls in the yard, or take on a construction project to improve our home, or when I just want to enjoy myself in nature — and I can’t because the pain is just too intense — I think very seriously about giving up. Just rolling over and living on my back for the rest of my days never pushing myself again. Never enjoying the things I love or knowing that incredible feeling of earned accomplishment.
Instead, I choose to throw myself deeper into the things I love and push through what sometimes feels like torture. But when I’ve completed what it is I set out to do, no matter how badly it hurts, I feel alive in a way that is unmatched by anything else in life.
I recently took on one the most intense wilderness adventures I’ve ever done: six days, a canoe, a remote part of the Adirondack Mountains, and a best friend.
We paddled 35 miles through meandering rivers, crossed over 70 beaver dams, and carried our canoe, along with our gear, five miles through the mountains from one body of water to another.
I experienced unbelievably significant pain. And I waged a war against giving up. But more than anything, when we completed our journey, I stood alive in the unmatched feeling of an accomplishment earned.
Craig is an award winning author, speaker, and photographer and was featured in the S-Word Documentary. You can learn more about Craig and his work at ThisIsHowItFeels.com.