In Rwanda I wrote about life lessons from a pool hall, but Nicaragua is all about climbing volcanoes. So here we have it:
0: Just getting started.
Your first few steps towards the ultimate goal will be met with excitement and enthusiasm, often followed by burning sensations and your mind starting to fill with doubt as you realize you are more tired in those first few steps that you had anticipated. Getting started is the easiest and most difficult part of reaching any goal. Make it through this phase, and you’re ready for the climb.
1: Keep your head up.
Don’t forget to admire the world around you. It’s natural to keep your eyes on the ground, by your feet, carefully stepping and avoiding obstacles that may make you stumble. Take the time to stop and look at the beauty around. Otherwise, you may just miss out on the whole purpose of the journey itself.
2: Admire the view below, too.
Don’t forget to look down.
It’s easy to constantly look up and be discouraged by the next challenge ahead, the winding and arduous incline that you have yet to conquer. Take the time to look back down the path you’ve traveled, and to admire the view from which you are standing. Happiness and self-contentment is so hard to reach because it’s always placed ahead of where we currently are. Remember how far you’ve climbed, and be proud of the sweat, blood, and tears payed to get you there. You are ever so slightly stronger than you were, and closer to your goal.
3: Keep pace.
Midway through the climb, you’ll feel the beads of sweat dripping down like a waterfall and the weight of the life-supply baggage on your shoulders making you ever-more grounded. Your legs seem to tire more quickly now, and your pace will slow. You start to doubt your ability to make it. Find that spot in your mind and remember the words of Rocky Balboa:
[Just] Keep. Moving. Forward.
4. Don’t compare.
There will always be someone in better condition on the climb. That person who zoomed to the top, jogged back down to check on you, and made it up before you can say “my vision isn’t working anymore”. Don’t compare yourselves to them, for it robs you of your accomplishments. Besides, there will be things that you see and experience for your harder and longer-lived journey that you were able to see for it. Be the hero of your own story.
5. You will make it….mostly because you have to.
On one of our climbs, a person turned around, sat down and said “I don’t think I can make it.” The logical counterpart to that emotional reaction is this: the alternative to ‘making it’ is dying on a volcano or possibly learning to live in the central american cloud forest. That person ended up making it to the end just fine. The reason?
We’re all a whole hell of a lot more capable than we give ourselves credit for, and for most of us that only really comes out when he have to push ourselves, left with no other choice.
6. Top will be the reward
At some point you’ll reach the top. Relief will hit, as will a sense of accomplishment. All of the grueling work will turn from regret to pride almost instantaneously. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the reward of vantage point that widens the lens in which you view the world, even if just momentarily. Enjoy it while you can.
The next challenge awaits.
Also, coming back down the mountain, which is a huge pain in the culo.