Or for those of us whose ability to speak French is only in our minds…
The Epic Journey to Africa!!!
As the countdown to Kilimanjaro continues at an alarming rate, my days seem to be disappearing more and more quickly while being filled with less and less time to myself for much needed prep. It is just 39 sleeps til go time and I find that my to-do list has not changed in 2 weeks. There have not been any items scratched off the list nor added, my training is at a standstill, and nothing has been incorporated or removed from the dormant pile in my Kilimanjaro corner – with the exception of a black furry H2O bladder that was inadvertently left for 10 days at 30 degrees, full and stagnant in my Osprey pack, after a mosquito-swarmed hill hike near the river with 2 fellow Kili trekkers. Ninety-seven percent of the surface area of my feet believe they are enveloped in a heavenly cloud of billowy comfort, while my heels are still lifting in my beloved Asolos, creating hotspots and blisters no matter what type of concoction I devise. My shift pattern at work has been changeable – working 18 shifts in the last 14 days – and I feel as though my free time is reserved only for sleep. This must, of course be a misconception, as my Fit-Bit Surge assures me that my average daily sleep duration is 5 hours and 23 minutes with only 7 periods of wakefulness during that time…
I am unsure if this is happening to anyone else in our group with Kili breathing down their necks or if it is just me (the time crunch, not the hairy hydraulics system – I do not wish that clean-up on anybody!). The posts on our “Climbing Kilimanjaro” and “Africa or Bust” Facebook pages contain photos of mountain hikes accomplished in 4.5 hours and confirmed safari bookings, the final invoice and pre-departure manual for Kili, and research updates and itineraries. Meanwhile, I feel slightly disenfranchised, more than a little inadequate, and I must also admit to entertaining horrifying thoughts of everyone in our group bounding up the mountain, fit and prepared, while I lay defeated and short of breath in a fetal position with a resting heart rate of 151, being mocked by Colobus monkeys throwing bananas at my head before I even reach Simba (Sekimba) Camp – 2635m.
Of late, these fleeting moments of self-doubt have had the sneaking ability to transform themselves into a full-fledged storm of negative self-talk. Trust me when I say that if one is not careful this storm can easily spiral into a goal-less, black hole of a pyjama-day filled with endless carbs and NETFLIX. On a positive note pyjama days are good, as are healthy carbs and Netflix. It only has the potential for disaster when it is all rolled into one with underlying elements of apathy and indifference. The past couple of weeks I’ve been tired out and burned out and it seemed I had temporarily lost that desire to learn more, see more, to experience and do more. Thankfully, it has been short lived and I am again able to recognize how mightily I am blessed to have the opportunity to embark on such an incredible journey.
I find that when I change my focus from me to what surrounds me, that I am able to see a very small part of some of the things that are wonderful and amazing in this life. When I shift my thoughts from how tired I feel from working to how thankful I am to have two jobs, I am able to see that there are people struggling each day because they are unable to work; When my thoughts move from how much I have to do to how much I am able to do because of my family and friends, I am empowered to do even more – not just for myself but for others; And when I start to look outward at circumstances that often can not be changed, at what surrounds me and overwhelms me, I stop, am still, and look within. I do this because when it seems that everything around you is conspiring to keep you from your goals, desires, and dreams, it is then that you will see not only the strength that comes from inside you, but what strength surrounds you in friends, family, and even strangers who have never had the opportunity, or perhaps the courage, to follow their own dreams.
During the time I have written this wee post, my circumstances have not changed in the least!! The shiftwork prevails, the blisters are peeling, my to-do list remains, and the time for training has not increased… but the dream lives on!!! My family is behind me every step of the way, I’m not yet out of ideas for blister prevention and lacing techniques, and I am one hundred percent confident that my trekking team won’t leave me with the monkeys. This trip has already turned out to be more than a vacation, a hike, or a trip with friends… In the short time of preparation it has proven to be an incredible learning experience, a time of getting to know myself, and a fascinating pilgrimage to the center of my being which has not been explored in a long while. The beginning of this adventure has been amazing and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us on our beautiful Voyage Epique pour L’Afrique!