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A story: Born with a rare eye disease Erik Weihenmayer became completely blind at age 13. Not surprisingly, he was told he would never be able to do the things that other people could do because of this challenging situation. But, as an ambitious, active boy, he refused to accept life with such limitations. After battling his blindness for years, Eric finally learned to embrace his adversity and make it part of him.
First, he joined his high-school wrestling team, where he became co-captain and runner-up state champion. Next, Eric took on a more formidable challenge – rock climbing – a difficult endeavor even for athletes with perfect vision.
“Blindness won’t keep me from having fun,” Erik insisted. With persistence and ingenuity, he took his source of adversity and transformed into a strength and an asset by using his heightened senses to take on obstacles and challenges that few people would even attempt.
In 1995, he scaled America’s highest peak: 20,230 Mt. McKinley. In 1996, he completed another amazing feat – he became the first blind person ever to scale the 3,000-foot sheer granite wall El Capitan in Yosemite.
Erik went on to become a children’s teacher and to inspire students to turn their liabilities into assets. “Blindness is just a nuisance,” he’s observed. As for his incredible climbing feats, he would tell people, “You just have to find a different way of doing it.”
What an inspiring tale of adversity accepted and transformed into an asset! Each of us has what feels like our own El Capitan to climb: Something that, when we look up, looks impossible to scale. And yet, as Erik found, when there’s a will, there’s always a way.
What’s your El Capitan on the writing front?
It may be finishing a novel that feels like a runaway train. It may be getting your book published and out into the world. It may be tackling a project that seems too ambitious in light of your experience and your belief in your skills.
Whatever big challenge you’re facing, remember Erik’s inspiring story, take heart “find a different way – your way – and write on!