I remember the exact moment when I decided to break one of my few personal ‘rules’ on the Rim of Africa. My rule was to never walk into cloud cover on a mountain, alone. I knew it was not safe to walk without being able to reliably navigate (I did not carry a GPS while walking), but I felt I had no other choice. It was past 5pm and I was tired and wanted to set up camp, but I was on an exposed part of a mountain side and the wind would blow away any attempt at setting up my tent.
That evening I walked into the cloud, and remembering that the wind was coming pretty much directly from the East (where I was headed), I just kept walking with my head down directly into the wind.
It was terrifying in a way because I had no guarantees. I had no idea what was ahead of me, if I was still heading in the right direction, or if I would be able to find a more suitable place to sleep for the night.
It was totally freeing in a way because I let go of doubt and worry. There was no other option and no possibility of having any control over what was happening. I surrendered to the wind, cloud, mountain and my journey.
It was magical in a way because I could feel the life in my viens racing to remain alert, to be listening and present in every sense of my body and mind.
And as this all happened, I found forgiveness in the cloud and wind. I didn’t realize it, but after years of carrying guilt, shame, and regret, I forgave myself for my mistakes and flaws. I found a deep respect, love, and a belief in myself that I never knew I had lost.
In the end it all worked out. I walked until it was too dark to see, stumbling into an rocky and thickly vegetated Afromontane forest. As I set down my pack the sun set with golden light piercing the clouds —from below. It was a surreal experience and my exhaustion made it all the more illusory.
This was just another moment, test, practice round of embracing vulnerability. The end of my 2012 brought many of these trials for some reason, teaching me a lesson I was not expecting to learn. Through listening to myself, my body, and trusting my journey I believe I passed the test. But the tests haven’t stopped, now instead of physical feats of climbing mountains I face important life decisions and emotional quandaries. It would be easier if these tests stopped, but I don’t think that would make my life what it is, what I strive for it to be, or remain true to the past I’ve created.