Why We Climb

(The morning after)

There is a familiar, gentle ache in my thighs, in my body, in the very navel of my spirit, like an old friend come to call. This is the reward of an eight-hour climb in the rainforest.

Why do we climb?

For some, it is a quiet opportunity to be with God; a communion with something beyond the ceaseless, meaningless rush of daily life. And sometimes we climb to be affirmed again: to be reminded that whatever life throws, has thrown, and will throw at you, you are more than capable of dealing with it, and overcoming it. This morning, my heart is quiet, and my Self is stable. As I soldiered on past cruel, spiky rattans and slippery mud, I was subject to internal, alternating squalls of anger and sorrow. But the Self this morning, like a gyroscope, is strong and self-righted. The heart this morning is quiet, after we spoke for so long and with such difficulty all the way up and down Belumut: all that guilt and self-recrimination, all the what-ifs and should-haves. Sometimes the climb is an exorcism. And so this morning the spirit is serene, the holes punched into it by betrayal and breaking healing better with this new balm.

5 hours up the mountain and 3 hours down, and not once did we stop in terror. saying “We can’t do it, it’s just too hard”. We simply carried on, and carried on, and carried on, until we reached the checkpoint, the summit, the starting point again. What began as an insurmountable feat, incredibly far above in the sky, can eventually be faced down. We climb the mountain to remind ourselves of our humble, but persistent strength. The faith that can move mountains.

Why do we climb?

Sometimes we climb to know, and to remind ourselves, that we can and will always be greater and higher than our darkest failings.

(You do not deserve the rattan palm, blistered with spikes, growing on the hot, unmoving belly of the hill. You deserve the cloud-wreathed summit. You deserve better. You deserve tomorrow. So keep climbing.)

27 July, 2016
 “Training Expedition” with the Batch 12 Tahan Crew
Climbing Gunung Lambak and Belumut 


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