”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.