LIFE LESSONS: LESSONS FROM THE MOUNTAIN TOP
I’d always wanted to go mountain climbing but it wasn’t an enthusiastic desire, just something I hoped for IF I ever had the chance. I wasn’t going to stress myself trying to make it a reality. You know how you create a bucket list and hope that some of them come true. Well, I did get the chance. Is it just me or do you also feel that first rush of excitement when you decide on something new? The kind of excitement you feel when you’re doing something you’ve never done before?
I was elated. I was going to climb a mountain, for the first time ever! The plan initially was to get to a manageable spot on there, take a ton of selfie, post them on social media and then go back home. I wasn’t going to climb the whole of that humongous mound, and I definitely wasn’t going to be climbing down after two hours on the mountain complaining of how much my body ached. I think that mountains are scary when you come up close. The way they stand unmoving and intimidating in front of you, and you never know what you’ll find. Only for my partner to tell me that snakes have been seen on the mountain. What?! But this was my first time and so far I hadn’t seen any snakes. There was also the fact that I wasn’t alone and of course I wasn’t going all the way to the top – at least I thought so.
The first thing we saw at the foot of the mountain was a small area of very clean water. You see, here in Nigeria we tend to attach spiritual significance to things that are uncommon, like that bit of water which some people had labelled ‘healing water’. I’m not one to disrespect people’s beliefs but on this day I had to use a bit of that water. It was extremely hot, I was sweating profusely and needed a sip of this water that looked like it was going to be refreshing. It wasn’t as cool as it’d promised though. Here that singular act would have earned screams of horror from the superstitious ones, besides I can’t lie that I was a bit hesitant and waiting for something horrifying to happen. Nothing happened. Fear number one conquered. I used what most people won’t dare to use, and on my body too.
On and on we went, taking selfies along the way yet this mound still stood unmoving. Anyone who knows what I’m talking about? You’ll notice that whenever you’re at the foot of a mountain you’ll feel very intimidated by it’s hugeness. It makes me think of our set goals or new endeavours and how that when we just start them they intimidate us because of our inexperience but as we do more of those things we begin to loose our fear. At the foot of the mountain I was most intimidated. I even imagined that it would tumble on me and crush me to the ground – I know that’s weird thinking – but as I continued on it I became less intimidated and more surprised that I was fearful of something that I was now standing firmly on. Our fear most time presents an illusion of what is not.
Fast forward to somewhere in the middle of the mountain. I could have stopped right there and be justified in ticking that item off my bucket list ‘go mountain climbing’, and I was going to if not for the innocent question that my partner asked me. She’d simply asked if I was going to reach the top. Between the two of us there was enough fear to go round. We’d overcome the initial fear of climbing the mountain, now that we had done that we didn’t want to face the fear of what lay on top of or after the mountain. I was scared (and it’s important that I emphasize that). Nobody told me to go mountain climbing. I was living alone so only myself and my partner knew where I was. I hadn’t bothered to tell anyone. Here I was now with the decision of taking even more risk or going back home with the fulfillment of having at least reached the foot of a mountain.
I don’t know where the courage came from but I decided that I wanted to be an inspiration to my partner. I was going to show her that it could be done, and so with my heart pounding heavily and the fear of the unknown (I didn’t know how I was going to run down a slopping mountain in case I had to), I dragged my butt -quite literally- up to the top. The mountain is such that at a point you could no longer walk on it, you had to crawl or drag your butt up. Interesting enough I had to back the unknown that I was going to meet, which means that I wouldn’t see what I was going to until I got there. I kept looking back just incase though.
I got up the mountain and saw a wide stretch of mountain with cactus, small trees, some short plants, and more and more mountains to the left and right – I don’t know any view more beautiful than the one from the mountain top. What?! I’d been scared of this? And it’s even more interesting because I saw cow dungs up there. How in the world did they get up there? Like that I reached the topmost part of this nameless mountain. My heart didn’t stop beating immediately but now I was more in awe than I was scared. I’d seen what was at the other side and guess what? It wasn’t anything to be scared of. I learnt another very powerful lesson that day: when we give in to our fears they make us loose what we stand to gain if we’d continued on the path of our dreams. When you get over your fear – no matter how badly your palm is sweating and your heart is beating – and you do what you’re scared to do, you’ll see that it’s really not that difficult. There’s nothing behind that mountain (figuratively speaking now) except for a stretch of unbelievably beautiful top and short cactuses here and there. And what joy to know that we did it. It was with joy that I ticked that item off my bucket list, adding beside it (to clear all doubt) that I also did reach the very top.