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on mountains and perspective

Kept awake by a bout of traveler's diarrhea and the ensuing abdominal colic. Just been back from an attempt at Mount Kinabalu, 'highest mountain in Southeast Asia'. Okay, those apostrophes are there out of bitterness... it really is the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. And I couldn't even attempt the summit. Made it to the base camp at 3067 m though... that's what it says on my black-and-white certificate - colored ones are only for successful summit-ers.  Crrr!

But I made it back with my life. And I'm humbler for the attempt, though how could I resist the parting shot: "I'll be back!"?

But on a more serious note, it's an awesome thing, a beautiful gift to be able to get out there into as natural a surrounding you can get (without dying a slow tv-less death from cold, altitude sickness, projectile vomit and did I mention cold?). It truly seems like one never can be happy - despite all my first-world comforts, I'd gladly pay to painfully drag myself up countless steep steps up a mountain in the rain, just to chalk up another experience and hang another certificate on the wall. You'd think I should know better.

Putting yourself into those kind of situations helps you get a perspective though. It's not all superficiality or stuff that falls into the quarter-life-crisis category.

There is a time on the track up, when your friends are struggling themselves and you have to go it alone. It doesn't matter whether other climbers, younger or older, are passing you by. The fact is, the only way to get out of the rain and the cold, is to take another step closer towards shelter. No matter how much your body begs for rest, or tells you that certain systems are threatening to shut down, staying where you are doesn't get you where you need to go. Just one step at a time, and five steps later, you'll be standing where it seemed impossible to reach five steps ago.

And it made me think - how much of our 5 minute victories are actually made up of our 5 hour hikes? How much of our lives pass us by when we go through the week thinking of our weekends, and spend our weekends dreading the Mondays? What if we focussed on the journey - focussed on training ourselves up for the mundane days, to endure boredom and inaneness and find joy in the midst of it all? Is living happy most of the time, better than living exhilarating, jet-setting, cool-enough-to-make-5,000-other-friends-on-Facebook-jealous lives 10% of the time?

I definitely want the peaks in life. That motivates me. But I think I want to try broadening the definition of what inspires me. Maybe every day is important. Maybe every decision I make could define me, prepare me, make me the person I am when an important moment in my life arrives. Maybe every person I meet could help me grow, whether I am helping them, being helped or just sharing a physical space for a moment in time.

At the end of the day, the mountain will remain. It has stood for 7 million years (and is considered young!). My attempting to conquer it does not change the world.

But it changed my world.  Just a little.

And it falls to me if I want it to change the worlds of people in mine. And that starts with one step, one person, one thought at a time.


A True Realist said…
Changed my world too.
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