A state of perplexity

By Loren Deutsch

Easy is a relative term. It can mean something different to everyone. Last week I hiked Quandary Peak in Colorado. It was my first 14’er, and as many websites indicate it is among the most popular and easiest climb. However, per above, easy is a relative term.

A 14’er is a mountain hike that reaches at least 14,000 feet at the summit, and in Colorado, there are apparently 58 of these summits. Some of the peaks just reach 14,000 feet while others well exceed that ascent height.

In the summer, Chicagoans take a little extra time to go outside. We know that the weather can change quickly and it is important to maximize the outdoors. So, my goal in hiking Quandary was definitely focused on getting outside and being in nature. My goal also included training for physical and mental challenges I don’t get to experience during my daily routine in medical education. Hiking a 14’er meant quality time with friends, pushing the limits of what is comfortable, and mitigating my fear of passing out due to lack of oxygen. Everything I read about the hike suggested that stamina-building exercises would ready me for a big climb and I would need to hydrate and listen to my body to avoid altitude sickness.

Each weekday for the past 8 months I woke up early to work out before work, mostly cardiovascular training and weight lifting. As LAS shifted themes from hope to wellbeing it reminded me to reflect on my own wellbeing. Perhaps, it fits more easily into summer, with the outdoors, the sunshine, and maybe a slightly slower pace. Perhaps, it is simply about a state of mind and physical fitness, intertwining happiness with physical health. A person’s state of mind incorporates interpersonal experiences as well as intrapsychic ones and our wellbeing includes the emotional happiness we feel when we connect with others and with our self. To that end, our relationships, our personal time, and our physical health, all need attention and in unintended ways, preparing for my first 14’er gave me the space and time to take care of my personal wellbeing.

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