It’s a summit for my clients. None of whom climbed much more than a step ladder, and even then got a nose bleed. They’re in their discomfort zone, every step is a baby step, every breath a new learning. It’s like sucking up the whole library of self-help books absorbing the knowledge and spitting out the crud.
I hear a yelp, someone slipped, an ankle is tender, starts to swell. I spray this freezer stuff on it, bandage it, and in contrast to St John’s Ambulance advice, get them walking immediately. No place here for pussy talk. No escalator, no wheel chair, it’s up or out.
I see the look of hate in their eye. It’s an old city habit. Somebody to blame makes everything all right. Seems that I’m the brunt of all the blame, and, as a leader, I expect it although deep down reject that notion totally. I know it helps people deal with their unfinished business.
We move on. In a herd of cattle when one goes lame they shoot it. I start to understand why. We’ve been reduced to a crawl, the weakest link becomes the leading limit. I try persuasion, tricks of motivation, threats of rejection and a return to base. Nothing helps. We stop again. Three hours to do 30 minutes of walking. This is cold, and dangerous. Something has to give.
So I talk more, “you’ll be right” – “you’re doing great” blowing smoke up her backside with platitudes is like trying to get a truck started with a tooth pick. Then I remember a previous trip when a porter held the hand of a struggling client and took her up and over a mountain without a word. I realise it’s not her ankle that’s causing slowness.
She refuses to give up, she won’t go back. So I split the group. I reassign leadership to the most experienced of my Sherpa Guides and tell the group to go on at a healthy pace.
I’m now left with one assistant, my “overwhelmed client” and me. We have six hours walking up and up then down and down rocky paths. She stands, winces, complains, cries. Anyone would think her ankle was broken. It is, however, from her city life perspective, worthy or surrender.
I’ve given up in my life. Let go of people, dreams, ideas, business, relationships. It’s healthy to know how and when to let go. I’d say, “when your hearts not in it, either fix it, or get out” – anytime I’ve lingered in between, just like my client is now, it’s just been an act of shear, brutal will that’s got me through. My city client hasn’t had much practice at this. Money, comfort and relationships help us avoid it.
The wind is picking up, the sweat is freezing on my back, I feel the chills entering my kidneys. I stop, strip down and take off the wet thermal. Better nothing on my skin than a wet refrigerating thermal. I put on my spare silk. I care for the client, but if I don’t look after me, everyone is going to suffer.
It’s no longer her ankle. She’s developed attitude sickness. Her mind is rushing here and there, emotions are out of her control, the reason she’s actually on the trek have evaporated. She’s no longer in the zone, and my job is to help her find it. Otherwise we’ll never make it.
Mt Everest peaks through the clouds ahead. I point it out. She’s in awe. A beautiful wild goat watches us from a nearby outcrop. A small flower is vivid in the snow and there near a rock tiny Himalayan strawberries are ready for the picking. The hill becomes irrelevant, her ankle a secondary problem. I have to deal with three issues to help her back to the Zone.
- Doubt – there can be no inspiration in a doubtful mind
- Ingratitude – A person who is not enjoying their space can never be in it.
- Competitiveness – While we compete, we deplete…
To doubt is human, and to rise in confidence to expunge that doubt is foolhardy. Doubt comes and leaves when it is right to leave. Let the doubt come through you, do its work and leave. I help it. I say, “oh, hi Doubt, welcome home, and there’s the back door when you’re ready” – For most damage that comes from doubt comes in fact, from the fear of it. The more I fight doubt the bigger it grows. If I relax, think clearly, plan carefully, break things down into tiny steps, doubt eventually goes. No need for willfulness. “Doubt is me Mate”
Ingratitude is a killer… attitude sickness is as toxic as altitude sickness. No human deserves such torture. Ingratitude comes from new age thinking, religious thinking, righteousness. Mind is a bastard if it’s left to absorb the conditioning of modern day cultures. If you’ve got the guts to go against the grain, there’s nothing you can’t be thankful for. Truly, no human deserves ingratitude. It’s ultimately hell on earth.
Competitiveness…. the voices on the outside come from the crowd, win win they bark at me, and to my competitor win win they bark. All the while my head and heart are trying to compete, trying to win, to beat someone, confused with emotion, trying to win approval, to the best thing, be better. It is distracting. Instead, the inner voice of inspiration speaks to me softly, it’s yours, go take it.
Now the crowd has left and her audience is reduced, my client realises that I am unimpressive, her games for blame, victim, sympathy, care and kindness are lost on me. She tries by upping the anti, it doesn’t work. Now, humbled, she is left with no other option that to dig deep and find her own inner voice. There is no sprained ankle in her way, just a competition between her outer and inner voices. Inner voice wins, she suddenly stops limping…
Looking at the mountains, the flower, the goat may sound distracting but it breeds in her a thankfulness, she starts to smile, make jokes about herself, the path, me, our assistant. It’s all better, energy returns, blood sugar rises, depression is banished, her spirits are high in spite of the challenging climb, we laugh and joke the whole way.
As competition is gone from her mind, and her spirits lift with appreciation, we are left without doubt of reason, intent, purpose and outcome. No longer a question of “if” we’ll make it, in fact, she forgets there is any “it” and just walks up the hill unassisted. That doubt could not be fixed on it’s own is an amazing awareness. We could have spent years negotiating with her doubt to find some compromise that would leave her able to move forward. Instead, we honoured it, and left it to resolve itself by dealing with competition and attitude sickness…
Take the great library of Alexandria, the mysteries of Egypt, the historical books and bibles all created and blend them to one, and you’ll probably find, what my client discovered, just walking up a hill in Nepal….