This book…you guys. This book. If you follow me on Instagram (@nerdnamedsarah) you might have seen how much this book got to me. If you read this book (and I highly suggest that you do) you will need a box of tissues for sure!
No Barriers is a book my mother gave me. I thanked her for it but didn’t think much more about it since non-fiction is very difficult for me and this book is 454 pages long!!! Yeah, I never thought I would pick this book up. However, as of late, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching. I’m trying to learn how to communicate better, with myself and with others. You would think it would be easy to tell yourself what you want, what your dreams are etc. False.
Interestingly enough, it is not easy to be honest with yourself.
Y’all, self-sabotage is a real thing. It sounds stupid, but in the moment, it really makes a lot of sense to shoot yourself in the foot. 😆 You regret it later, sure, but will you learn from it? No. Will you get past it since you learned the hard way? No.
It turns out, it’s a choice. It’s a choice to break barriers in your life. Let me show you what I mean. Or rather, let’s have Erik Weihenmayer show you what I mean. *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS*
At first glance, Erik Weihenmayer is a blind daredevil. A crazy dude who likes to pull stunts even though he hasn’t been able to see since high-school. However, if you look with more than just your eyes, you’ll see so much more in this inspiring man’s life.
The odds of Erik contracting the disease that took his sight were about as good as winning the lottery. It could have happened to anyone, but it happened to him. He grew up learning to cope through climbs and hikes. True, he couldn’t catch a ball or throw a frisbee, but he could do a lot of things most kids don’t do with perfect vision. As an adult, Erik helped start a movement dubbed “No Barriers” that sought to break the stereotypes of disabilities. He was inspired by veterans that barely lived through the injuries that took their limbs. He learned lessons from blind children in Tibet who fought against the cultural belief of feeling worthless. Erik learned by looking outside of himself that others have it rougher than even a blind guy who likes to climb mountains (Someone else will always have it worse than you-NOT a constructive thought in my opinion). An idea kept coming back to Erik. The idea that there is a choice. The choice you make when you’re on the edge. “Déséquilibré. It means…that point of imbalance.” It’s that moment where it feels normal to give up. You think to yourself, “I’ve gone far enough. It’s only logical to stop here. How could I possibly go farther? There’s something in my way.” A barrier.
We’d rather give up than fail. We’d rather not try than miss the mark. Why don’t we get a kick out of at least saying we tried? Another good quote from the book, “I want to run more, but I think I’m going to fall a lot. Falling sucks, but that’s just a part of it. I’ve got to get up and keep running. I guess what I mean is that you can’t run if you’re not willing to fall.” I have trouble with this in my own life. Irrationally, I expect to be perfect right out of the gate. When it gets tough, I bail. Can’t fail if you didn’t really try. It’s MUCH easier.
Erik goes through so much in this book. He loses his brother to alcoholism. His best friend is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He experiences a traumatic adoption with his son from Nepal. Not to mention, he fails to be able to kayak the Grand Canyon, his first dream since reaching the top of Everest. Now before I turn you off to this book entirely, stay with me. Just keep reading.
That’s a lot to go through in a lifetime, let alone a couple of years. We say the phrase “face your fears” like it’s easy…like we can see the benefit on the other side in the midst of the storm. Here’s the catch. There is NO hindsight in the moment. Through the struggle, the pain, the tears, you can’t see the way out until you are there. BUT, you can’t get there, unless you’re willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears. It’s an investment. Sometimes they’re risky, but whether the outcome is good or bad (unlike with money) you always get a lesson out of these investments. Erik tried so many things to get where he is today. He tried out a crazy weird mouthpiece that creates sensations and draws shapes for the brain to interpret (like he’s seeing with his tongue. How cool is that?! 😃). He tried different kinds of kayaks to find out which one worked best. Erik tried countless radios and other forms of communication so his guide could effectively lead him through the white waters of the Grand Canyon. It’s difficult for us to try new things because it removes us from our comfort zones, but only then are we able to grow into the person we want to become.
So here’s the part where I tell you something about me. Have you ever thought you knew something about yourself? It’s a thought you have pretty much set in stone. You say, “I KNOW this about me.” You don’t think it will ever change. But then it does. It shakes your reality a little bit. You don’t know which way is up and which way is down. I’ve always thought I didn’t belong in Midland, Texas. It’s a city I’ve lived in for ten years. I got the chance to be somewhere else for a bit, and I took it! With glee and joy in my heart, I took that chance and ran with it! I didn’t realize how much I would miss it. I didn’t know how much this city is a part of me. Being away wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. I thought it would be a chance to see new things, be a different person, finally spread my wings. How arrogant was I?! Reality check. You don’t change with your location. You change you. If you’ve got something you don’t like about yourself, GET UP and DO something about it! After all, what’s stopping you. Oh yeah, that barrier, right. 😏
Here’s the truth about barriers. They are a choice. It’s a choice because the barrier is all in your mind. If a man without arms or legs can climb a mountain or learn to surf, if a deaf woman can write original songs, if a blind man can kayak through the grand canyon AFTER climbing Mount Everest, then you CAN choose to break your barrier. 🙌
I know what you are thinking. “Sarah, you don’t get it! I have a real disability or I don’t have the same options you do or I REALLY do need a change of environment.” Are you telling me that’s IT!? You’re just going to accept that barrier as a part of your life now? Hogwash!
There’s ALWAYS a way around, under, between, through, over, behind, beside, or beyond your barrier. The ONLY reason you are still on this side, the only reason I’m still on this side of it…is one choice. It’s my choice. It’s your choice. You don’t have to live in fear of your barriers anymore. You don’t have to give up. You don’t have to turn back. Choose to stick it out. Choose to face your barrier. Decide, today, you will live a life with NO BARRIERS! 🙋
P.S. Erik eventually kayaks the Grand Canyon successfully! Just in case you were wondering. 😉
P.S.S. Thanks for the book, mom 🙊
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves.
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?