The Art of Suffering

Posted in Bucket List, Personal on Jul 21, 2011

If you’ve live in Seattle for any real length of time, chances are, you’ve stared at Mount Rainier.

As a hiker, I’ve spent a ridiculous amounts of time staring at and taking photos of it from different mountains all over Washington. I was invited to climb Mount Rainier three days after finishing my Mount Baker climb. While I wished for more rest days, I couldn’t pass up the chance to climb a mountain that I’ve spent years dreaming about summiting. It was a moment that I’ve trained so long and hard for, so even though I was still hurting from climbing Baker, it felt wrong to not go.

Climbing Mount Rainier was the hardest thing I’ve done. Up until then, climbing Baker was the hardest thing.

One of my law school bucket list item was climbing Mount Baker, I can’t find words to describe how grateful I am to be able to hit my bigger bucket list item of summitting Mount Rainier a week later. I’ve trained my ass off this year for Baker, hoping to be able to achieve this one goal but I had written off Rainier as a sailed-ship.

While I was climbing Rainier, one of my teammate asked if I was going to ask the boyfriend to take up mountaineering with me. I told her, “No, I don’t see him as a mountaineer because he doesn’t suffer well.” She laughed and asked what I meant. I explained to her it takes a certain personality to be able to enjoy themselves while putting themselves through great discomfort. It’s not for everyone.

I imagine law school to be very much like mountaineering in many aspects. There will be much suffering to get to the end. The thing that helped me greatly while climbing Rainier was to remember that it was a privilege to be doing the climb at all. So while it was a lot of physical pain to haul nearly half my bodyweight halfway up Rainier, every moment of that was by my choosing.

While clinging onto the mountain for dear life with a few points of crampon teeth, I was still in awe of the beauty around me.

Beauty that only a very privileged few could ever share. Mountaineering requires ridiculous amount of time to train, money for gear, and time to do the multi-day trips. Not everyone can afford those things. Still even for those that could, when they are there, can they let go of the pain and fear enough to enjoy themselves?

Ever have an amazing night but you stayed up way past your bed time and you have to work early the next day? Did you grumble through your misery of lacking sleep the next day? Or did you bask in the glow in a night well spent while feeling slightly woozy from missing some sleep? That is the art of suffering well.

Law school is going to be a lot of suffering, but if the conditions are right, the reward could be so glorious.

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