An inspiring story: Erik Weihenmayer was born with a rare eye disease; by age 13, he was totally blind. Not surprisingly, he was told by many people that he would never be able to do many of the things that other people did because he had a disability. Erik refused to accept a limited life and fought his blindness. After years of struggle, he learned to embrace adversity and work with it.
First, he joined his high-school wrestling team and excelled: He became co-captain of the team and runner-up to the state champion in his class. Then Erik grew more ambitious and took on the challenge of rock climbing—a difficult, dangerous sport even for those with perfect vision. “Blindness won’t keep me from having fun,” he insisted.
In 1995, he scaled 20,230-foot Mt. McKinley, North America’s highest peak. In 1996, he became the first blind person to scale El Capitan in Yosemite, a legendary 3,000-foot wall that even the most skilled of mountain climbers have often been defeated by. Later, Erik went on to become a teacher and inspire generations of students with his story. B
“Blindness is just a nuisance,” Erik once said. As for climbing, he observed, “You just have to find a different way of doing it.” Erik took adversity—his blindness—and turned it into a strength by using his heightened senses to take on challenges and accomplish feats that few others will even attempt, let alone conquer.
Instead of letting his lack of sight hold him back and define him, Erik found a “different way” to do what he wanted to do. What an inspiring message he’s given us all!
Whatever adversity we’re facing in our writing—rejection, stalled drafts, stubborn characters who defy our plans for them—we can conquer them by getting creative and coming up with different ways to tackle the problems we face. Just think of Erik scaling the massive El Capitan. He found another path to get where he wanted to go and so can we. Let’s lace up our boots, start climbing, and all write on!
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