Much of the time, strength and peace are unassociated aspects of life when viewed from the surface. One provokes words such as force, action, and courage while the other makes one think of relaxation, tranquility, and harmony. At the basis, strength denotes physical exertion and muscle capacity while peace represents the dormancy of the body as in sleeping or inactivity. To contemplate these words in a more meaningful sense, however, can instigate within the individual mind a philosophical and spiritual debate that has been in question since the beginning of time. It is established that humans need water and eventually must have food. But when it comes to human emotion and thought, is there an inherent notion within ourselves to find things such as peace and strength not only in our bodies, but within our souls and minds? As I have said before, the natural world is a place of wonder, where one can go to find solace from a progressive and busy world. I believe that certain points in our lives essentially lead us to search for both strength and peace, not only within, but in relation to the surrounding world as well. We want to feel strong, and not only feel but actually be strong, if only for the moments where life tests us the most. Accordingly, we want that strength to lead us towards an invigorating and cleansing moment of peace where we can dissolve the doubt of the mind and conquer the demons that trouble our souls. When strength leads to peace, and peace gives one the courage to be strong, a glorious harmony is achieved within the individual. This was my experience in the Boulder Canyon this past week.

The first experience, rock climbing, found me at the bottom of Happy Hour Crag, which lies about 6.8 miles up the Boulder Canyon. You can reach this rock by taking Highway 93 into Boulder and turning left on Canyon Road, which takes you into the Boulder Canyon. This rock is a great rock for beginning rock climbers as it holds routes from beginner to intermediate. I insist that beginners only go with climbers who know how all the equipment works, or find a guide to take you up there. Going by yourself is out of the question.

As I had only climbed once in my life, I started at the far left side of the crag, where a short climb acts as a confidence builder for the rest of the cliff. I had a group of experienced climbers with me, which helped define my experience, and I learned a lot. The thing about rock climbing is that it is a very friendship oriented sport. While the climber climbs, his partner must belay the rope, meaning he must stand at the bottom, giving the rope slack and tightening as the other ascends. After the group had encouraged me to try the small one, I found myself merely teased by the short climb I had just completed. Feeling ambitious, I immediately began asking if I could try the intermediate climb. A short wait allowed me to watch some other climbers test it out, and this only made me anxious to try myself.  So it began.

Halfway up the climb, with sweat pouring over my face and my arms and legs shaking from exertion, I realized this truly was testing my strength, not only physically but mentally as well. To be in the heat of the climb, facing a challenge one has never faced before, and the option to quit or keep going, can try your will power to its fullest extent. My arms, my legs and my core were faltering, weak from the pushing and pulling. My hands shook violently at certain points, and my mind played tricks on me, dancing in and out of the shadows of failure and completion. Remembering my quest to feel strong, and hearing the voice of my spotter guiding me down below, I gathered my breath, pulled myself up by trusting my hand-hold, and barely caught my foot on the jagged protrusion in order to climb past the final cliff edge. I had overcome my mental instability, forced adrenaline into my veins for physical strength, and used every pocket of air in my lungs to summit the cliff. Sitting there, arms hanging weak like jello, I found tranquility of mind, knowing I had accomplished something I never thought I would do. While the cliff face may only be just that, to me the cliff represents a wall in life, a challenge. To overcome these things in life is triumphant, and one must test themselves in life in order to grow. There may be doubt, fear, and indecision, but these are the moments that carry us forward. Strength of mind and body had helped me achieve peace within myself, and doubt had ran down the mountain crying.

To finish this trying and exciting day in my great adventure through life, I took my newly acquired peacefulness another couple miles up the Boulder Canyon Road. A testament to the strength of nature and the power of water over time, Boulder Falls rests about 11 miles up the canyon and lies on the right side of the road. There are signs, and a five minute hike will lead you straight to it. I sat on a rock, 50 feet from the falls, with the mist tickling my oily face. I closed my eyes and meditated on the events of the day and how meaningful of an experience it was for me to climb. I listened to the peaceful rush of water as it flowed over the weathering rocks, and thought of its strength as it carves deeper into the canyon over thousands of years. This waterfall represents the plunge it takes for us to overcome our fears, and act on our adventurous callings in life. There are walls in life that can test our vigor and fight against our will, and to climb them allows us to carve our own canyons in mountains that used to seem utterly impassable.