Where to start? When one has an incredible journey, an epiphany, a life-changing experience, how do the words start flowing to articulate it?
I had the honor of hiking to the Base Camp of Mount Everest. Initially intimidated by the daunting task ahead, I found my confidence growing each day. My mind, body, and soul were tested, and I finally had an opportunity to see just how strong I truly am.
Through my journey each day and my journaling each night, I came to realize a few lessons:
Life doesn’t have to be so complicated and hectic. Anyone who knows me understands that I like to be busy, thrive on being under pressure. While nothing is inherently wrong with that type of lifestyle, I have basked in having down time to simply think. My relationships with the people I met on the trail were unclouded by anxiety about my job, fear of falling short, or distracted by my cell phone. I was fully present each day, something I’m not sure I can say most of the time. It’s okay to slow down and appreciate simplicity. In fact, I think you’ll feel more full and whole if you do.
People are all the same! In the middle of the mountains, away from technology and society, people are still people! While this thought seems so simple, it was profound for me. These individuals whose lifestyles are so dramatically different from my own are still human. They feel pain, hunger, joy, contentment, and love. I saw this most purely in the hearts of the children I encountered. They played and laughed the way kids in my neighborhood do. Though shy at first, they became comfortable around me and wanted to be held. It’s incredibly easy to put up barriers, especially as wounded adults, but seeing the innocent trust of these children melted my heart. We are all the same deep down.
Love endures all things. Even when so far removed from my friends and family, I could feel their prayers and encouragement with me. Thoughts of my mum, dad, boyfriend, and loving friends in New Hampshire and New Zealand kept me moving. When I wanted to quit, when my stomach felt like a rock, when my legs couldn’t take another step, when the extreme altitude had taken the breath out of my lungs, I could sense their love and knew I could endure anything.
Each person has an internal battle that he or she is fighting. Whether it be insecurity, addiction, loss, sickness, or pain of any kind, each soul has a burden. I loved watching the Nepali people carry one another’s burdens the way Jesus tells us to. My faith and courage grew by my exposure to their unconditional love for one another. Often times I feel so distracted or busy at home to think to ask how people are doing. I feel so swamped by my own agenda that I forget to inquire, to listen.
My hope for the future is to carry these lessons with me. During my hike I carried my pack, prayer flags, water, clothes, food, exhaustion, fear, anticipation, courage, joy, contentment, and love. Now that my journey is coming to a close and my summer adventures are waning back to reality, I pray that I don’t become stale and stagnant. I pray that I don’t allow myself to forget what I have seen, heard, experienced, and learned. I pray I carry these lessons with me into the classroom in just a few days and that my future students will be changed by them.