When Impossible Means Nothing: In Support of Pushing Limits

Our world is always changing and doing so at an ever increasing speed.  Things that seemed impossible 20 years ago are part of our daily lives.  Who knows where the next 20 will take us. One thing is for sure, though, to continue advancing past the limits of what we know requires individuals to whom impossible means nothing.

This past weekend, Alex Honnold free soloed El Capitan in Yosemite.  For those of us who are not rock climbers, the term “free solo” means climbing by yourself—and without any ropes or safety lines.  It is an incredibly dangerous way to attempt a climb as any mistake usually results in a complete and fatal fall.  Despite these obvious and very convincing reasons not to free solo, Alex has become well-known for doing so with the utmost calm.  In just under 4 hours, he forged ahead (or upward rather), each foothold bringing him one step closer to being the first person to climb El Capitan this way.

Alex Honnold free soloPhotograph by Jimmy Chin, from National Geographic

There are a number of people who will tell you that not all ideas are good ones.  These same people will often say, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” When a crazy idea is offered, this generally sage advice is most often the counter.   We’d like to take a minute to recognize the other set of people that hear these wise words, shrug their shoulders, and continue to pursue their goal.  

“But I think it’s always cool for somebody to work on something difficult and achieve their dream. Hopefully people can draw inspiration from this.” 
Alex Honnold on free soloing El Capitan in Yosemite

Next week, will be cheering on 2,000 cyclists as they coast down into our town ending a day of grueling up and downs through the Rockies. Soon after, we will head to our local national park, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, to support Bill Sycalik, who decided to run a marathon in every national park in the country.  As we mentioned in our most recent newsletter, we feel an affinity with those who don’t think the same as everyone else, who tackle the “crazy ideas.”  It is the folks who push the boundaries of what we think is possible that can actually end up redefining that possible. 

Alex Honnold SummitPhotograph by Jimmy Chin, from National Geographic

In Alex’s interview after scaling El Capitan, he mentioned the support of a “whole village of people” that helped get him there.  While we may not be the ones embarking on crazy adventures, we can be a part of helping expand horizons just through supporting those who do.

The next time someone tells you their great possible pursuit (athletic or otherwise), pause before immediately offering the usual advice.  Consider instead lending a supportive ear or kind words to their effort.  Though these individuals possess incredible drive to push limits, they do not have to go forward alone.  While there is something inherently irrational in ignoring what is "impossible," we on the ground often reap the benefits of their new territory.

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