Happy Midsummer’s Night’s Eve,
I know it’s been awhile since I wrote. It always seemed that Sunday evening snuck up on me and I was out of gas to write. The past few weeks have been filled with dental surgery, the start of teaching for the summer term, and training for Pumori. I apologize for being missing in action in your in-boxes but also congratulating myself for taking a summer vacation away from my weekly updates.
This will be the last update under Kili Karuna as my attention has gradually turned from reflecting on the adventures in Africa to anticipating the big climb in Nepal. The countdown has begun and I’ve been trying us various approaches to training to find the one that will fit with requirements for Pumori.
We had a fun get together last Sunday with the WOKies based in Newfoundland. We shared a wonderful meal, enjoyed sharing a slideshow of the adventure, and told many stories behind the pictures to the assembled friends and family. Many of the team is already preparing for triathlons and other races and looking forward to whatever is coming next. When I look back, Kilimanjaro definitely taught me generosity in so many ways. I knew it would. Sharing the experience with such a tight knit team has spoiled me and I hope at least one of them will come to Nepal with me in October. The expedition is accepting trekking members.
I spent the weekend with another team of women. Twenty-one of us assembled at the Motor Vehicle lot in Mount Pearl to spend twenty hours learning to ride motorcycles. The group ranged in age from twenty-seven to fifty-six, from beginner to those with some experience. I was so proud of everyone in the group moving so far in skill and confidence from Friday night where sitting on a bike was a big deal to Sunday where we could pull off complex maneuvers. Under the guidance of six instructors (two of whom were women) we tried progressive exercise after exercise to build the technical skills to drive the bikes in a safe and controlled manner. Nervous laughter bracketed the experience-Friday night in anticipation of the first ride and Sunday afternoon as we waited to hear if we’d passed the course.
It was a hot and sunny weekend-not unlike life in the Western Cwn with solar radiation taking its toll after much exposure. Many faces were lobster-like from the combination of sun and wind. I reveled in being a student again. As a teacher, I try to regularly seek out times where I exchange roles and put myself into the position of “learner.” I pay attention to not only what I am being taught, but also how I am being taught it. I watch for my reactions and feelings and to those of the students around me. To quote John Dewey, it’s very “educative” to live through and notice the intense emotion of learning. Often during the weekend, some of the women would turn to me and say, “Say something motivational-you should be good at that.”
Spirits were down this morning as we returned feeling tired and flat from a full day previously. Muscles were sore, legs and arms filled with fatigue, and doubt raged. I’m glad they asked so I could share a few words of what it is like to have spent one day climbing hard and then needing to climb hard the next day with tired limbs and spirit. I could see hope reign when they realized they would feel better once they were back on their bikes and feeling the wind caress their faces once again. I shared some about what it was like to learn to rock climb and how riding a motorcycle had a similar steep learning curve. I noticed how easy it was for most of the women to be so hard on themselves. I kept reminding them of how far they had come from early Friday evening when they didn’t even know what a clutch was, let along know how to use it. I was vaulted into the position of expert and motivator some by reputation as a climbing and some because I had gone into the course with some experience and picked up the skills pretty quickly. I liked getting to share and be generous with my support to others when asked.
Personally, I loved the course. I had tons of fun riding the bike. I had always promised my dad I would do the course before riding. I hadn’t planned on taking the course or even taking up riding until I did a motivational speech for the East Coast Trail Association Volunteer Appreciation event. A woman won a door prize of a reduction of the fee for the motorcycle and gave it to me because she would never use it. I remembered my promise to my dad and said, “Why not?”
I loved being on a learning edge, a skill edge, and a mental edge. We had timed tests today and everyone (including me) was nervous. I used many of the techniques I learned through my Buddhist path as well as lessons learned on Everest to find a quiet place of competence from which to start each task from. I’m now eligible for my motorcycle learner’s permit and I hope to progress to my full license before the summer is out as I see the activity having some more to teach me…and it is so much FUN!
So, Kili Karuna has reached its conclusion for now. I’m sure I’ll continue to reflect on the gifts of that African giant and take the lessons learned from there and other mountains, into the next adventure of Pumori. Thank you for your support of this climb and I hope you’ll continue to come along on the next.