My second time out, I decided to head uphill into the redwood covered hills just across Highway 1. If my sticks were a nice addition to my coastal hike, they were absolutely essential on the slope. As soon as the path started rising, it was apparent that my nimble, mountain goat years were history. I definitely needed the two extra points of stability as I climbed. It was also soon apparent that without the assistance of my arms as I climbed, it would have been necessary to turn around. I was very pleased with my new poles as they pulled and steadied me on the trail. Several times, I know I would have fallen and possibly injured myself without my new tools. And that was just going up the hill. As I started down, I realized how dependent I was on the sticks. Between the slippery mud of the trail and the steep and irregular incline, I know that I would have been reduced to sliding down the trail on my ass or falling. With the sticks I maintained stability and balance going down.
The lesson here is that I was seeking a tool when I asked for a walking stick but I completely underestimated the value of that tool. I had a vision and expectation which was limited to my experience (seeing someone carrying one) but I had no real idea of how useful they would be or the way that they would be useful or even invaluable. I thought that the sticks were an optional help when they were actually a necessary resource.
Too often, I assume that I have complete knowledge when I actually know very little and I discount outside resources as superfluous. I thought that walking sticks were something nice to have but not essential as perhaps they are for a twenty-something and that I am impervious to the physical limitations of aging. I was wrong- very wrong. This time I was lucky enough to discover how wrong I was. Now I wonder how many other ways I have kept myself from discovering valuable tools and limiting my possibilities as a result.
I don’t know if this is something that you may have experienced but if you have, please share what you learned and how you found a new and invaluable tool or what ways you keep yourself open to new ideas that challenge your image of yourself. I don’t want to miss anything that helps me be a stronger and more active person.