(I planned to write, well, finish and post, my thoughts on Mallory & Irvine's summit day today, but it needs a bit more work, and frankly I've been swamped. So, that'll have to wait till next week. But, in the meantime, I came across this post and inspriational story...enjoy.)
I say it a lot - We all have our own Everest, a metaphorical mountain we need or want to climb in our lives. These mountains take many shapes - some are mental, such as building self esteem, dealing with mental trauma. Other Everests take the financial form: buying a house (or selling one in the current climate), starting a business, retiring, putting kids through college. Some people are climbing physical mountains as they fight back from and injury or disease.
Or, as in the case of Karen - a self-described "Wife, Best Friend,Chihuahua Mommy, Amateur Writer, Cancer Survivor, & 'Mountain' Climber" - the mountain is in the form of fighting to lose weight.
Karen's story is not unique - many people battle with weight loss in this country and around the world. What is unique, I think, is the honest, thoughtful face Karen puts on her struggle. In her blog she describes moments not unlike those I have faced countless times on countless peaks around the world:
- fear of the terrain ahead
- fear of failure (and maybe even fear of success)
- the desire to give up when the path ahead steepens and the summit looks far, far away
- discouragement at the seeming lack of progress
- the incessant question: Is this really worth it?
But Karen, like the best climbers in the world, is pushing onward. Not stupidly, not irresponsibly, but pushing on toward her goal with thought, discipline, and marked progress. Again, like the best climbers, she's been down this road before. She's tried to climb her mountain in the past...and failed to reach the summit. As she wrote in her first blog post, echoing the words of many a climber returning to their dream peak:
I am not sure how many times I started this trek up this “mountain.” I do know that every failed attempt was a result in poor preparation and just plain cluelessness. But this time I have the knowledge, the proper equipment, and the best Sherpa around in the form of my loving and supportive husband. I know this journey will not be easy but I feel more ready than ever and look forward to the challenge of my life and given the other mountains I have conquered that is saying a lot.
Karen, as you well know, the going will be tough. The path to the summit is lined with risk, with challenge, with adversity. But, the rewards are great, and the view from the top will be worth all the effort and risk.
One of my favorite mountain authors, James Ramsey Ullman, put it quite eloquently years ago in The Age of Mountaineering:
The climbing of earth's heights, in itself, means little. That we want to try to climb them means everything. For it is the ultimate wisdom of the mountains that we are never so much as we can be as when we are striving for what is beyond our grasp, and that there is no battle worth the winning save that against our own ignorance and fear.
Karen, climb high, climb strong, and enjoy the journey!
I like the idea of everyone having a mountain to conquer. Tenzing Norgay's son writes about that in his book Touching My Father's Soul.
I wanted to thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog. I am touched that you find my story inspiring and very flattered you wrote about me here in your blog!
Although, I am only a metaphorical mountain climber I am pleased that an accomplished climber such as yourself can relate to my journey! Thank you for your well wishes and check back with me from time to time, I can use all the words of wisdom that any can offer while on my "climb".
Thank you for writing about Karen and her journey. She is an inspiration to me ( as well as her husband Ramses) They climb there "mountain" together. Thanks again for your inspiring words.
This is what we in the outdoor world need more of...practical application of what we do into "reality". It helps non-climbers see that we aren't self-absorbed in our own little planet.
As I'm working on losing some weight myself at the moment, I can really identify with the mountain metaphor. I hope to end up at the Summit of my mountain, much thinner and ready to take on new challenges.
Thanks for sharing Karen's story with us.