A is for Anxiety: Ama Dablam #13

I am less than two weeks to Ama Dablam. As usual, I’m not sure where the time went in the lead up to the climb, I just know I don’t quite feel ready. Though, if I am honest, I suspect I rarely feel “ready” and perhaps reminding myself of this will quell the rising anxiety that is common in the lead up to a climb.

The dialogue in my head goes something like this…(please read this as fast as you can) ,wow-this training today feels super hard, should have done more on the road last week, last week was rest week, I know but four days as a lump in the hotel wasn’t good, why didn’t I get it together to train more, you’re doing fine just finish this interval, everyone will be fitter and faster on the mountain, so what, climb slow…wow, this interval really sucks and I’m going to fall off the back of the treadmill, did I choose the right ice axe? 30 more seconds, whew this is tough, I wish I’d trained more, what if I get humbled like I did on Mount Cook last fall? You trained more, you’ll be OK, you got this…this climb has time, you can take your time, it’s all going to be OK, you always feel this way two weeks out, work with your mind, breathe…wow, this is tough today though I step ups are easier that they were two months ago, I wish Danny Williams would give St. Bon’s money so they can fix their chiller so we can play hockey, I could donate, I don’t know how to train for mountains without hockey, I miss hockey, shoot, this interval is hard, hockey is the best interval training of all, I wish I trained more, will my teammates like me? Gotta love this phase, the only way out is to breath and remember it’s impermanent, just like everything else, sweat in my eyes, one more interval, I can do this, I should have trained harder…

In the picture above, my leg is being held up by my best buddy, Karen Warren in a restaurant in Chattanooga, TN. We both loved the sign and the idea of me wearing heels. You can see my tattoo. It means courage. Karen have the Kurt Hahn address to the Association of Experiential Education last Friday and it that presentation, she said we need to exercise ordinary courage in pursuit of social justice. I agree and extend that idea that we need to practice ordinary courage in most everything we do especially in dealing with our own minds. My Buddhist teacher, Moh defines discipline as gentle bravery. While working with my mind yesterday, I thought of combining the two into gentle bravery/ordinary courage…meaning to me that in each moment, aiming to be both gentle and courageous, brave and ordinary…as well as courageously brave and ordinarily gentle…as well as bravely gentle and courageously ordinary…let those roll around in your head some, I am…and it’s helping.

I can’t make the anxious thoughts stop coming but I can receive and process them with gentleness. I can be bravely ask for support with them. I can let them move out and through into the ordinary rather than elevating and attaching to them. I can, not believe them. And I can start packing…

I like to start packing early. It helps work with the anxious thoughts and feelings that arise before a big climb. The first step is pulling the gear which Marian and I started doing last night. The nest step will be checking it all against the gear list and doing all the little tasks like attaching zipper pulls, changing batteries, and making needed repairs. Working with gear gives something concrete to do with all the anxious energy that’s moving in and through…and I’ve long since known that I’ll soon be dealing with my classic pre-trip decisions influenced by the erroneous belief that if I only make the perfect choices that I’ll never be uncomfortable on the mountain. Fortunately, experience has taught me that a) life at high altitude is most always uncomfy in some form or another, b) there is no one right choice, c) that I can make it work no matter what choice I make, and d) everything is gonna be alright. (watch this great video by Amelia Curran and Roger Maunder…the sound track is perfectly soothing for times like this and the message absolutely critical)

I looked at where the alphabet soup for blog entries was at prior to writing this post-turns out that I’ve completed one full acronym for Ama Dablam. Ama Dablam means “Mother’s Jewel Box”…Ama means mother and Dablam refers to the necklace that Sherpa women wear to keep precious items close to their hearts. For me, it means…

Morning Mind

Discipline, D.O.M.S., Double Double
All Directions
Back at It, Berries, Boxes, and Buckets

And on that note, time to stop writing and get on with the to do list…much to do in the next 11 days!


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