”Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work; a future. To be courageous is not necessarily to go anywhere or do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences.
I took this photo with our Driftwood Adventure Treks group during our descent back down the Lukla Valley from 18,500'.
I remember gazing at these mountains for hours on end, softly placing one foot in front of the other, breathing deeply and steadily; face and fingers tingling, feeling invigoratingly alive as cold, thin air was warmed by lungs.
It was a privilege and a gift to take in the Himalayas with all of my senses.
I promised these sacred mountains that I would do everything I could to express the sense of humility, awe, and wonder it filled me with to immerse myself in them. I remember taking this photo as a seal to that promise.
And in that moment, something hit me: after all of the time I had invested in training for the ascent, this was the first time I was really considering the emotional and spiritual implications of the descent, the reintegration.
Coming to this realization in the midst of such a stunning backdrop, with a heart fully open and unguarded, brought me to my knees. I remember hugging my group and letting out a cry as if it were to be echoed back from the mountains, and my fellow trekkers holding me up as my knees gave way from underneath me. It probably only lasted a few seconds, yet it felt like an entire lifetime flooded through me in this moment. .
After spending my first four years of learning to navigate the outdoors as a lone wolf, it was here where I really began to understand how much more enriching it could be to experience the mountains in the companionship of friends across cultures, old and new. This newfound perspective of experiencing mountains seemed to echo the totality of life itself.
Following that spellbinding moment, an eagle soared overhead, blessing us with the gift of perspective and effortless grace.
My heart was set free again.
Memory: From the Mountains to the Ocean, April-May, 2018
Over the last five years, I've accumulated two suitcases full of memories; spiral-bound, 5-subject journals, dating back to September 2013, filled with stream-of consciousness observations and real-time reflections on navigating my way through the world amidst a series of life-altering transitions.
During this time, I've grown increasingly interested in how journaling can offer insights into the ways in which memory is formed, and how interpretations of memory shape perception.
As a starting point, I recently transcribed all of my journal entries from my spring travels to Nepal and Portugal, running the raw text through a word cloud engine to identify predominant themes in my writing. (If you aren't familiar with word clouds, the premise is that the larger a word appears in a cloud, the higher its occurrence in a block of text.)
I was curious to identify common themes that were coming through in my stream of consciousness during my time in Nepal and Portugal as the energy was fresh, and how the themes aligned with my current memories and perceptions of these experiences. What was there to learn?
I was also curious to examine my travel journalling from a bigger picture perspective, combining both sets of journal entries for the word cloud shared at the top of this post.
As illuminating as it was for me to synthesize hundreds of pages of travel content into a handful of ideas, this exercise generated more questions than answers:
Seeking thought partners.