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Don’t Throw Your Glasses in the S*!T Hole

It's the middle of the night, and someone's slicing up my eyeballs like deli meat.

When I force them open, I still can't see anything but black, and the deli slicer whirs into high gear.

On a scale of 1 to 10 for pain, my eyes are a 111. I’ve been counting my breaths for over an hour trying to use mind-over-matter and now I want massive, western painkillers.

I fumble around in my med kit, but a bunch of the pills are the same shape.

I hesitate to yell across camp for help this late at night, but I really don’t want to mistake a fist full of painkillers for a fist full of laxatives - I'm already blind - so I yell.

My friend pads over through the crunchy snow and turns on a headlamp. Even with my eyes under a thick blindfold, the faint light feels like someone kicked me in the eyes with a soccer cleat.

How the hell did I get here? How did I ,of all people, go snowblind?

I know better. I've worked on a sun-beaten glacier for three summers, and having fair skin and blue-eyes , I learned quickly how the reflection of sun off snow is a laser.

Even with overcast skies, the sun’s rays will find every exposed sliver of skin and burn it like a bonfire marshmallow. If that body part is your eyes, your corneas will crisp up like a nice crème brûlée and you'll go "snowblind."

I'm usually religious about wearing the extra dark, glacier glasses designed for bright snow conditions like this, so why didn't I wear them? It just doesn't make sense.

I'm under strict orders to sit in darkness for 24-48 hours, so I have a lot of time on my hands to ponder my failure inside the dark tent wearing a stupid, blue, fleece blindfold. So I sit, playing back the tape. I need to figure this out so it doesn't happen again.

How did I miss the classic symptoms? The headache, the sand in your eyes sensation, and the grumpiness.

Let's see.

At the top of Ice Cream Gulch, I finally had to admit something was wrong. My eyes were so hot and inflamed from the climb I couldn't make out the trail right in front of me - and then everything went dark.

Before that? I felt like I had crap my eyes when we skied down the dirt road this morning.

Last night, my eyes stung, but I thought I had sunscreen in them.

On the river the second morning I had a hard time getting my contacts in, but it didn’t seem that bad. Maybe I was so busy with dogs and trail navigation that I didn’t notice.

Maybe... but what was the cause?



The morning we left, I dropped my glacier glasses down the hole in the outhouse - and left them there.





Wait. Why they hell did I leave them there? Why didn’t I just fish my glasses out of the hole? The pit was frozen solid, and no one had used it for 9 months, not even me. I’ve retrieved stuff out of much skankier outhouses. That’s not above me.

Cue my inner cavegirl.

I didn’t want to ruin my tough-girl persona on the first day of the trip with people I barely knew. I wanted to prove myself, not look vulnerable.

Cavegirl had me sacrifice a critical piece of gear (and my entire potential to succeed) on the altar of what someone else might think.

Now I'm sitting here blind as a bat and being a huge, vulnerable, pain in the butt.

A small, insignificant decision cut my potential for success off at its knees.

Here's what I've learned.

You need to know what part of your brain is doing the deciding.

At each junction, we have a choice to make, path A or B. Each of those decisions takes you closer to your potential or destroys it.

Your primal brain will unconsciously compel you to hide your vulnerabilities, to "look cool" and resist the very help that could be the difference between failure and success.

Maybe you wonder why you can’t break through your own personal blocks. Why you can’t figure out what your good at? Why you can't get through an interview? Why you keep ending up in jobs you hate?

I'll bet your primal instincts are trying to keep you "safe."

You need to know what part of your brain is doing the deciding.

How do you know? Are you making decisions out of fear or confidence?

Your primal brain's job is to keep you safe which often translates to keeping you stuck in the same pattern because it's known (the devil you know...).

Discovering what drives your decisions is the key to breaking out of your current pattern.

My blindness was temporary, but if you don't figure how to harness your mind, the walls you are hitting will be permanent.

If you're willing, you can learn how your primal brain works, break your pattern, and stop throwing your glasses in the s*!-hole. ​​​​​​

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