It's Nick jumping in your inbox today. Recently, I climbed Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48 states: 22 miles, 6600 ft elevation gain, usually requiring 12-18 hours to complete. Why would a 48-year-old guy with little hiking experience want to do something like this? Just standard-issue mid-life crisis?
A lot of reasons, actually: the beauty, the challenge, and that friends of mine had done it successfully. Why couldn’t I?
Here I am with my good friend Daniel Ching (better known in the musical world as the first violinist of the Miro String Quartet):
There you are, proof that we made it! After 97 switchbacks, 12,000 feet, 22 miles and 16 hours, we celebrated with burgers and beers. It struck me how much preparing for and doing the hike was so much like prepping for any big musical achievement.
Study: for both, I studied, listened, mentally borke it down in parts, trained, practiced, and visualizes well before I ever make the attempt.
Get the right gear: Does my gear do what it needs to do, over and over, without it fatiguing me unnecessarily? Performing and hiking both require answering this question repeatedly over time.
Test: how can I feel like I’m doing this BEFORE I’m actually going to do this? Testing is everything for both hiking and performing.
Focus: One of the best parts of the hike was in the dark, and forced me to focus only on what was directly in front of me. Not that different than practicing well, really...
Slow but steady: when we confront things we think we cannot do, it’s important to go slow, but to consitently go. This was true for Mt. Whtney, and it’s absolutely true in learning something new on your instrument.
How bad do you want it? After all that practice, when you’re still not there and have a ways to go, how badly you want it has a lot to do with how hard you’ll work towards it.
The top is not the end: Just because the hard part may be over doesn’t mean you’re done. I’ve seen hikers and performers both give out after the “hard parts” are done, but well before the mountain--or the music--is.
Goingpast obstacles: Are we giving it our all? Can we go a little farther? It’s the
question I had to ask on the trail as well as the practice room.
Earn your celebration: When we do succeed, even small wins, we sometimes don’t
reward ourselves. Earn that reward—your hard work will make it make it feel all the
Do something that scares you a little. David Bowie said it best: “when you don’t feel
that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do
something exciting.” The thrill of attempting something you’re not sure you can do, and then doing it, is what growth is all about.
Want to read more about my adventure? This was just the Cliffs Notes version! Go here (INSERT LINK) for the full, death-defying blog post!
This weekend I'm giving a masterclass where we'll talk about my path and career, cello playing, hear the Elgar Concerto and yes yes, answer your questions about summiting Mt. Whitney. (You should do it)!
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