44 Miles, 22 Hours

A question about selfishness

March 7th, 2015 : 4 minutes

This is an assignment about a conflict we've had. What happened? What did we learn?

Let me set the scene:

Last year, I was invited by some of my more inspiring and epic friends to hike the Grand Canyon in 24 hours. I had missed the previous year's "Sufferfest" event because of a new job so I was especially excited to be able to partcipate. I invited a friend from college (one of the only other masochists I knew) to join the ~30 other people making the trek to GC.

The other major things you must know are:

(1) The Grand Canyon's rim-to-rim hike is 22 miles.

(2) There were 3 organized groups:

(R2R-24) hike from the south rim to the north rim, camp overnight, and then drive back to the south rim the next day

(R2R2R-48) hike from the south rim to the north rim, camp overnight, and then hike back to the south rim the next day

(R2R2R-24) hike from the south rim to the north rim and then back to the south rim, all in the same day

(3) There was a large group of people going and I only know 4 or 5 people. My friend only knew 1 (--> me).

My friend, let's call him Jet, lives in LA and we were keeping in touch and discussing our trip to the Grand Canyon together every so often via phone and text. We were both hoping to do the rim-to-rim-to-rim in 24 hours (R2R2R-24) but the week before the trip, he called to say his knee had been bothering him. We would have see how he felt when we got there, and make a decision then.

Fast-forward to the day of the hike. We decided that morning that even though we wanted to do the whole thing in a day, we would take the 2-day option due to his injury.

Our conflict occurred as we were approaching the north rim at around 3pm. We led the pack of 20-something people in the R2R2R-48 group, which made me consider the option of just pushing through and completing the whole trek in 24 hours. Jet is a seasoned mountaineer and an adventurer who appreciates pushing one's limits. When he said he did not feel comfortable continuing, I asked him if he would be okay with me going on on my own. My question offended Jet and really upset him, which actually surprised me. We discussed the issue for the remaining 3 miles to the north rim and were silently frustrated with one another by the time we reached the top.

We both felt that the other was being selfish.

I felt that Jet was being selfish because I had trained for months to do the R2R2R in 24 hours and had been looking forward to this epic adventure for (really) 2 years now. I wanted to challenge myself physically and mentally and I thought of all people, he would understand that and want that for me too.

Jet felt that I was being selfish. I had invited him on this trip and we were doing this together. He didn't know anyone else but me and as a good friend, a good travel partner, a good adventure companion, he expected me to stay with him and never even consider abandoning him.

We ended up both continuing on and completing 42 miles in 22 hours. Jet was...incredibly inspiring as he did it with injuries and it was for sure, one of the most physically and mentally difficult things I've done.

We have been friends for a long time and talked about our misunderstanding rather exhaustively during our drive back to LA. We learned a lot about one another and how we prioritized people and experiences. I also learned a lot about myself.

Over the years, I've learned that compromising sometimes costs more than I initially expect. There have been many times when I really want to do something but decide to appease someone else instead. I end up feeling good that I made the "right choice" at first but I find myself regreting my decision...and sometimes, I start to almost resent the person who I made the sacrifice for. This "dilemma" occurs with things as trivial as going for a run versus going to a friend's BBQ, and sometimes as big as dropping out of graduate school versus staying to at least get a degree to satisfy my parents. I find myself wishing I had put myself first and most of the time, I should have.

Consciously or not, I've surrounded myself with friends who understand this about me and also feel the same way. We support and encourage one another to "do you" because we believe that you have to take care of number one first, otherwise you cannot share your best self with the ones you love. In the case of the Grand Canyon, I learned that it cannot always be this implicit understanding adn that I need to communicate what my wants and needs are honestly, openly, and most importantly, early. I cannot expect people to read my mind -- I certainly cannot read theirs -- so it is necessary to set expectations clearly and early.