Kili Karuna #3

Greetings from a Snowy Evening in St. John’s,

I am once again in my chair–no ice this time–trying to find words to describe my week. It was the second full week of a more intense training schedule, so by Friday, I was enveloped in a thick quilt of fatigue. Patchworks of exercise through the week had taken their toll and I struggled to make it through my last few workouts. The fatigue was a good sign. It means I’m working hard enough. As always, my challenge is to ensure that I rest enough and I try to apply the lessons I learned from training for Everest to future climbs. I remind myself to take the entire constellation of my existence into account when deciding to keep or set aside a planned training. And different from the past, I’m willing to rest more often than in the past. I’ve come to trust that my body will be ready for Kilimanjaro when the time comes–that training puts reserves in the bank from which to withdraw from on the mountain but doesn’t always have to be a study in Nietzsche.

Phil has added push-ups to my regime and I do them to failure…until my face drops to the floor no longer held up by my arms. I lay there panting, forehead glued to the hardwood with sweat, waiting for my little mitochondria to manufacture a tad bit more energy so I can pull off a few more reps. I’ve been thinking that life lately has been a bit like those push-ups.

Friday, I learned that a friend from my Buddhist community died suddenly and unexpectedly at the way too young age of thirty-four. The news threw me to the floor with no energy left to face a third death in my circle of friends and family in less than a month. There was the temptation to remain stuck to the floor, questioning how and why life and death go the way they do. The unfocused view of the floor only inches beneath my eyes, reminded me that there is no answer. No one answer anyway. And that each person has to find her or his own answer. To her or his own questions. After many tears, I settled into a continued appreciation of the preciousness of this life and a renewed commitment to never take it for granted.

Tuesday, Marty and I got to play on a line together in hockey. We used to share the offensive zone with Nicole when Don coached us all. Both Marty and I needed a good skate and during the first shift, she set up me beautifully several times and I managed a pure hat trick within the confines of the opening minutes of the game. We returned to the bench, and with a sentiment that I think you almost have to be a jock to understand, I said to Marty, “This game’s for Don.” With a quick nod of her head, she joined my pact and we skated our hearts and grief out for the rest of the game connecting efforts for several more goals. There are many things to do with grief. As a kinesthetic processor, it often helps me to walk, or skate, or hike, or sweat to get big emotions to move on out and through.

I was grateful for a big double snowshoe ascent of the hill above Quidi Vidi village this morning with the Kili crowd for the opportunity to climb through my grief and be ready to attend Michelle’s wake this afternoon. Through these hard times of the past few weeks, I’ve appreciated your words of support and kindness and like training, they add to the reserve–a deep well of community and connection that sustains me both at altitude and sea level. Thanks for coming along on this multi-faceted journey.


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