It would be stating the obvious that this journey up Mt. Rainier will provide me with an opportunity to address fear. Fear of frigid temperatures and being out of my comfort zone, which sleeping 5 nights in a snow cave will do to a down comforter, spooning lover girl like me. Fear of crevasses and avalanches. Fear of not being strong enough, or brave enough, or capable. Fear of finding out that I’m not cut out for extreme mountaineering. Which would be a serious drag.
The day before I left I spoke with a woman at The Dudes’ school. Actually, she witnessed my last will and testament. She had a touch of awe in her eyes, and a whole lot of, You’re crazy! I chose to pay attention to the look of awe. Then I sat across the table from one of my climbing partners last night at dinner. Climbing guys. That’s better. Anyway, he looked at me through wise, 62 year old eyes and said, You ARE crazy.
Alrighty, then. I returned to my plate of asparagus, the last green food I’ll be seeing for awhile.
His point was that I could have done a sweet little three day summit over the summer and just tested out the feeling of Alpine climbing. I thought about doing that, but it didn’t make sense. It wouldn’t have proved to me something I desperately need to know. Do I have what it takes?
Had I started slow I would have to wait a year to see if I can go all Lewis & Clark on Rainier. Which puts Mt. Everest another year out of my reach. I’m not waiting. I’m not waiting to climb, to test myself, to be brave. I’m not waiting. I waited for years while I was married to experience the thrill of life.
I’m not waiting another moment.
Which means I have to come face-to-face with fear.
Fear of making a mistake and paying the price.
The experiences of the last three years have taught me a valuable lesson – the walking dead live through fear. When I sweep fear aside, I come alive. When I am fully present I don’t make mistakes, I take thoughtful risks and they pay off. Always. When I am ALIVE my intuition is accessible. It guides me. Then I can relax. Be at peace. Know that I am doing the right thing for me. The right thing for The Dudes. And the right thing for those whom I love.
About two months ago I found fear lurking around inside me. I didn’t let it get comfortable. Soon after excitement took hold. And by the time I landed in Seattle yesterday I was ready to teleport to the mountain. I know this is going to be insanely difficult, extremely uncomfortable and ridiculously fun, exhilarating, fulfilling and magical.
That is LIFE.
If I focus on the difficulty and the uncomfortable nature of living in snow in frigid temperatures with zero creature comforts I will miss all that is ridiculously fun, exhilarating, fulfilling and magical. If I let my mind lead me I will zero in on the work that is in front of me, the labor, the grueling task of hauling a sled of gear up a mountain. My heart? All she wants to do is run around from person to person and animal to animal clamoring about the fountain of gratitude that erupts within me like Old Faithful.
I found out last night that I won’t be delicately lowered into a crevasse to then practice crevasse rescue.
I have to jump.
I am SO grateful. (I had to pull that one out like a hair stuck in a bite of caramel apple pie already half chewed in my mouth.)
It doesn’t seem natural, or accurate, to be grateful for that which truly tests my will. But that’s exactly the time to be most grateful. I know that from expressing gratitude for the Pocket Call. The Universe was delighted to see that I GOT it. I knew it was a gift. Something so terrible held such magic. If I had slipped into pity and self-loathing and depression the gifts would have been returned unopened. I remind myself of that daily. Which helps me to realize that standing next to fear and shining way brighter is Promise. Hope. Achievement. Success. Pure Joy. Absolute Happiness. And, for me, the biggie – Peace of Mind and Contentment.
Along with the challenge of fearing not the mountain, I am faced with fearing not the love that awaits me when I return to sea level.
Mr. Perfect Timing wrote me a letter to take with me to Mt. Rainier. I opened it on the plane. The card, which is so appropriate it’s as if he handmade it, is pictured above. Inside were two letters. Get ready for this…
One was for me.
One was for my Mom.
I’ll give you a moment to go get some tissues.
To me he said,
I feel your gratefulness in everything you do…
…you have every right to stand safely surrounded by yellow emotional caution tape and say, “Uh, yeah…I’m good right here…you guys go on ahead.”
…yet you stand wanting to explore this time of ours…the fear of losing something special outweighing the fear of losing…
To my Mom he said,
…As I learn about her…what drives her, what’s important to her, how true her moral compass is, I can’t help but think what a great job you and her Dad did by giving her the foundation that has so obviously benefitted her throughout her life.
…I know it must be hard having 3,000 miles miles between you two, so I want to reassure you that she’s not alone out here. She has a bubble of Grace that surrounds her and the boys and an army of people who love them the way you’d want them to be loved in your absence. You’re never far from her thoughts and your impact is felt constantly.
Not that she needs it, but I’ll make sure she is safe. You’ve already made sure she is sound.
Since reading those words I’ve been trying to catch my breath as if I’m at 20,000 feet.
So moved was I that the words Climb High written in Nepalese on the inside of the card escaped me. At first. Then hit me hard. I told him in passing as we spoke of Everest about the time when I asked for those words from my former spouse who was traveling near the region and he blew off my request. Or forgot. Or was busy Skyping the one he loved.
Now I have the words.
And this feeling inside that says, This is too beautiful to let fear get in the way.
On this mountain I am going to let it rip. Not the safety cords, mind you. But my fearless spirit. I’ll need her. I’m being given the opportunity to put into practice all that I’ve learned. ALL of it. To include the ability to fully invest in love without the fear of losing it.
Kittens, you’re coming with me. Get on your parka. You look hot. Which is good, because it’s going to be really freaking cold.
I’ll be updating Twitter and Facebook as connections and time permit. We depart for the mountain Sunday morning. I return and fall into the arms of Barbie with Brains on Friday night. Please follow, friend and otherwise stay connected to me.