This past weekend I went on a backpacking trip in Kings Canyon. Beyond money, the price for such a trip was severely blistered feet, a swollen middle toe, some wicked knots in my shoulders, and sore calf muscles. In final summation, however, the beauty of this place, the chance to live in it through all hours of the day, was well worth the cost.
When night approached, with bellies full and muscles recovering, we gathered around the campfire and engaged in the kind of meandering conversation that such circumstances seem to encourage. During this time, one of the subjects we talked about was rock climbing, and how the sport has developed over the past few decades. Currently, devoted rock climbers, at the top of the totem pole, are able to accomplish climbs that a generation ago would have appeared superhuman. One gentleman, Chris Sharma, in a demonstration of incredible strength, agility, and acumen, made an upside-down, horizontal, back to the ground, climb along the ceiling of a cave.
In the course of this conversation I was struck by a mild epiphany concerning the paradoxical relationship between discipline and freedom. What I saw was that the intense discipline that extreme rock climbers submit to is the pathway that allows them to move with greater freedom than most of us will ever know. Stated in more general terms, the yolk of discipline is the instrument of freedom. In thinking upon this further, I wondered where else in our lives is this principle true.