• Josh Anderson

Don't Look Down

Nick Holliday shares his story of grappling with understanding his true identity as a child of God. Doing so has forced him to let go of his own ambitions in life to focus on just who our Father in Heaven has created him to be.

“The summit is what drives us, but the climb itself is what matters.” —Conrad Anker

Don’t look down, but at the same time when you look up you can’t even see the summit. The tendons in your hands cramp vigorously. The barbed rock shred your fingers’ stubborn calluses to the dry bone. Little by little the skin of parched palms cracks wider.

Chalk is the only ointment for these tortured hands. And a chunky Cliff Bar is the key ingredient to perseverance. It’s you and your own thoughts up there. You tell yourself to take a deep breath and you remind yourself, “don’t look down...keep moving up.”

Keep going forward and keep pushing through the pain because the summit will be worth it all.

What Do You See?

I'm not sure about you, but all I see is an unforgiving piece of rock. Only a handful of people can see a gnarly line to climb.

If you squint hard enough you just might catch a glimpse of a slender man dangling from the jagged rock. That’s Nick Holliday.

He spent four years in Yosemite National Park guiding, climbing, backpacking, mountaineering, and skiing for an outdoor leadership school. You name the outdoor sport, he has most likely tackled it.

Outside But In Control

What is it about these wilderness adventures that capture Nick's imagination and interest? For him, it's the intense mental strength needed to stay safe when competing against the unexpected.

“I gravitate towards any activity that necessitates all of my attention. By necessitating there is usually a risk, physical risk, involved," Nick said. "My attention is necessary in a risky environment to keep me safe.”

And yet for Nick, it's not about chasing danger or wanting to walking on the wild side. Just the opposite. His love for the outdoors is all about control.

“There is something about the attention and the control in this environment that is really captivating to me," Nick said. "I can care less about the adrenaline high of being jittery and out of control. I want to have full control in an environment that is risky and to some degree have a mastery."

Challenging himself with these extreme situations is how Nick is able to push himself to grow and mature.

“There is an internal dialogue of how to continue to push myself," Nick explained. "I can get to a place where I am comfortable but it becomes boring. Continuing to push yourself in order to expand the comfort zone is a growing lesson.”

Space to Let Go

Climbing offers a breath of fresh air and a breadth of possibilities. It elevates a sense of urgency to pay careful attention in high stress situations.

Hanging on the side of a mountain relieves more stress for Nick than squeezing a little rubber ball ever could. The bigger the sky above the more secure Nick feels inside. The wild offers him solitude, peace, decompression, and somewhere he can feel more centered.

Ironically, Nick finds rest in activities like kayaking, climbing, and skiing. They are freeing because his mind has to focus on one immediate task instead of many competing responsibilities. Nature is Nick's intimate channel through the craziness of life.

Not Today, Son

After working for four years at Yosemite, Nick zipped up his bags and made the cross-country trek to Boone with intentions to further his outdoor adventure career. He eagerly went knocking door to door with his chin up and his head held high. He applied for a variety of full-time jobs with outdoor outfits. Each job he felt more than qualified to perform. Yet each opportunity evaporated as Nick was turned away empty handed time and again.

It was almost as if Nick's one true love had slapped him across the face and showed him the exit without any explanation.

In a lot of ways, the rejection shattered Nick's identity into pieces. He had dedicated years of hard work to strengthen his skills and perfect his technique, but he couldn't find seem to find his footing. Who was he if he wasn't leading outdoor adventures? Nick found himself stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Maybe it was God telling Nick that it was a time for a change. Maybe he just needed to look deeper within himself, past the layer of what he does to the depths of who he is. But how?

I Am More Than What I do

A mentor of Nick’s told him to write down 20 "I am" statements.