Thats what one fellow told me as I sat next to him looking up at Devils tower in Wyoming. He didn’t know that I’m a diabetic–or that I’ve stood on the summit of Devils tower twice in the last 3 years. Not going to lie, I kind of wanted to clock the guy. But I just smiled and walked away.

Not surprisingly that comment stuck in my craw–because that is something the little voices in my head say at times when my situation looks bleak. On the other hand, the fact that statistically “I don’t belong” in the mountains is EXACTLY what has drawn me to them. That challenge is where the value of the outdoors is most dynamically demonstrated.

By nature I am a defiant person. If someone tells me that I can’t do something or scoffs at an idea that I have, I generally decide that that’s exactly what I must do. When I was diagnosed with type1 at age 16 the doctors and nurses looked at me with pity in their eyes. I was now a victim. I was doomed. I would have to stay within a short drive of hospitals and pharmacies and be a slave to my condition.

When I got out of the ICU and back to “normal” life I decided that I was going to show them! I’m not sure if they knew that reverse psychology would make me take better care of myself or if they just thought that I really was going to be tied down for the rest of my life, but I have to say that every time I complete a climb, I smile to think about the fact that I “don’t belong” in the mountains.

Challenge is a natural part of life–and much of the problems in our lives are created by our attempts to pursue less natural lifestyles. Nature built in challenges. We seek to eliminate them and prioritize ease and comfort. I know that I LOVE sitting on the couch and taking in several days worth of The Simpsons or  It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This monkey on my back called “Diabetes” gets me to put down the remote and makes me rage against the limitations that feeble comfort would tell me to accept.

I am blessed to have diabetes. Yup, I went there. I know that is blasphemy to many, but I look at the things I have done in my life, the places I’ve been and the summits I’ve stood on and I know that I would not have felt the urgency to live fully NOW if I had not the uncomfortable needling of impending doom (aka diabetes).

Challenge is opportunity. Thats the driving message behind Project 365 and I have been repeatedly inspired by others who have built on similar foundations: overcoming personal challenge in order to take on objective challenge. So while I am planning my own opus I am inspired and blessed to have seen the guts and heart (in a totally non-cannibalistic way!) of others who have chosen the same path.
You may remember our friends Naomi and Ken—

and this video of the first all-disabled ascent of El Cap. Less than a year from now, we will be up there following in their footsteps, standing on the shoulders of giants.

If this doesnt light a fire inside, check your pulse.