Not many people were sure if little miss delicate could make it to the highest mountain of Africa, including myself. Early last year, I lost my job with an amazing position, was surviving on savings and was facing unending stressful situations. However, there was a voice in me that made me feel strong and realize that my life was larger and braver than my problems. I was determined to do what I feared the most and to overcome my anxieties. I was ready to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. My fears paved a way for a willpower that made me jog for 15 kilometers a day, ascend and descend tall buildings 20 times at a stretch and get fond of eating healthy food!
In this piece, I’d like to encourage everyone to pursue the most difficult but the most re-assuring goals of your lives and be a winner! Here I share my experience and positive takings from climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
I will try to keep it short and reader-friendly, sharing my lessons learned before, while and after scaling the peak.
A very special thank you to my sister who left everything behind, including her supportive husband- Jay, and climbed up to the peak with me and my soul sisters Shreyanshi and Disha who lived up to the promise that we gonna make it together- Go Girl Power!
1. Mental strength always wins over physical stamina- I was horribly unwell on day zero. This means I was frail, sneezing, feverish and not fit to scale the mountain. However, I was firm and positive. I told myself, “don’t let all those efforts go to waste. If you survived all the mental stress, you can beat this too”. I had a running nose all the way up and down. Sometimes I would be the last one to reach our camp from the group. On the last night, I could barely breathe. It was a do or die situation. But yes I did it. There was just one phrase I lived up to. “Yes, I can do it”. One of our three secrets to reaching the peak was ‘positive thinking.’ I chose to smile and filll my mind with gratitude and strength. The two other secrets were drinking plenty of water and walking slowly.
2. Leave your worries behind- Life is full of challenges, big or small and they keep rolling in. As I climbed the mountain, I felt more light and free. I was immersed in the beauty and serenity of the mountains. I was so touched to see the porters carry 20 kgs of weight on their back and walk at a hare’s speed, smiling at us. My guides Peter, Ramadhani, Nickson and Joseph neither used mountain sticks nor had warmers as good as ours but they were filled with positivity. They celebrated with us after we made it to our camps every night. We all left our worries behind and ascended the highest heights with great enthusiasm.
3. Don’t give up till the very end- This short and a meaningful phrase by my Buddhist mentor Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, has made me successful in many endeavors of life. On the third day when we were 4,000 and something feet high, my head was throbbing and I could feel no energy in my legs. On the fourth day, I was blanking out and would refuse to eat. However, I carried these words in my heart. I held my guide’s hand and sometimes asked him to push me. We met so many positive climbers on our way. An Indian celebrated his 50th birthday as he came down from the peak and rejoiced (even if with very little strength). This assured me not to give up.
4. Discipline- Nickson always insisted on drinking plenty of water. ‘Ok guys Sipi Sipi’ (have some sips of water). Ramadhani made sure we all were covered with warm layers. I hated being dressed up in so many layers of clothes. It made me look fat in the pictures sometimes. Later, I was so grateful to obey every word of my guide. I drank plenty of water, ate well and followed every instruction so carefully. On the fourth night, my guide said, you will have many negative thoughts, ignore sleep well and think you are on top of the peak. That night, I dreamt my tent was flying towards the peak! Time flew and I was on the peak. What a cherished memory!
5. Tupo Pamoja ( We Are Together) – I am so fond of African values. ” We are always together”, is one of our favorite phrases in Tanzania, in good times or bad. I am super grateful to my team to practically teach me this great lesson of ‘winning together’. You are never alone and that you will find the right people besides you. They will not be many but certainly the right people. My sister Hetal always fight but she proved to be my life support. She risked her life on the last day to make sure her baby sister was alive. Disha and Shreyanshi checked on me 24*7 even during times when they were sicker than I was Joseph was my Hero and our chef. He held my hand and always said don’t worry dada. He made sure I was always moving. Peter risked his life, found me food and water when I ran out of it. Emmanuel from Joy Tours made my dream come true by suggesting the lowest rate and the best guides, Imagine if such kind souls did not exist!
I am not only overwhelmed, and this was not a mere dream. I imagined myself on the peak and there I was on top of the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
Thank you Mom and Dad. I was disconnected with my family for almost 7 days and they let me enjoy my little share of freedom and discover life.
As I quote one of my favorite books, I would like you to remember “Life is what you make it.” (~by Preeti Shenoy) and as Pablo says “Everything you imagine is real”, so make yourself a victor, a hero and the happiest person in your imagination. Win today!