Will you become a mountain climber?
Poet Stephen Levine wrote: “There is a grace approaching/…It is an insistent grace that draws us/to the edge and beckons us surrender/safe territory and enter our enormity.”
One of those moments of insistent grace was my recent journey to Nepal with Above and Beyond Cancer. I was part of a group of 36, including 19 cancer survivors, from 9 states, who have experienced 14 different types of cancer. To look at us, we were an unlikely bunch of mountain climbers – but climb mountains we did: physically, emotionally and spiritually. Surrendering safe territory, I entered whole-heartedly into a narrow spot of my own choosing, something completely outside anything I had ever done before, with an open mind and a willingness to be present to whatever the experience had in store for me.
The trip to Nepal, beginning 2 days after my 64th birthday, most definitely and literally drew me to the edge. On paper, the itinerary promised to be more physically demanding than anything I had ever experienced. In addition to traveling half-way around the world with 35 people that I did not know, there was the opportunity to climb 3 mountains in a majestic, awe-inspiring setting. Even though I had no previous experience with that altitude or that kind of climbing, I signed on.
In 14 days, we trekked 100 miles, as the crow flies. That does not account for the up and down on rough, irregular, rocky terrain, ranging in altitude from 8,500 ft to 16,300 ft; or the summiting of the 3 mountains. I certainly went above and beyond where I had ever been before, summiting 2 mountains and climbing to 19,200 ft (20,400 was the summit) on the third before practicing self-care and turning around from exhaustion.
Have I become a mountain climber? No – but I have had a transformational experience in Nepal. I am grateful for what I learned about myself on the journey. I am looking forward to climbing Mt. Whitney with my brother, Bruce later this year. I will enter whole-heartedly into another self-imposed narrow spot that will provide a memorable experience with someone I love dearly. Stories to be shared later….