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15 Days till Kili: It’s Not Fun, It’s Feet
2
September, 2016
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My first summit was Bear Mountain with a colleague and friend, Chuck Garcia, an experienced climber who has done Kilimanjaro, Everest, and many more mountains. Chuck wrote a wonderful book about how climbing is a metaphor for career success (www.climbleadership.com and I’d be telling you this even if I wasn’t mentioned in the book, which I am. Thank you, Chuck. It is an honor!) Anyway the sky was clear, the sun bright, and the temperature mild. We parked the car and I grabbed my Kili backpack, stuffed to mimic the weight I’ll have on the climb, and hoisted it onto my back. As we started up the path, right away, I noticed something disturbing: when I was looking at my feet, everything was fine. But if I looked up, even for a minute, I would become wobbly and lose my balance. The potential injuries even without the heavy pack were alarming, but with that extra weight, it was constantly risky. So for the entire climb up the mountain, I watched my feet. Now, there’s nothing wrong with my feet, nor with my cool new turquoise hiking boots, but somehow I hadn’t anticipated their starring role in the visual aspect of my hiking experience. When I reached the summit, neck aching and muscles spent, I took a deep breath, and asked Chuck, somewhat awkwardly, where the fun was. He tried to be kind. “Why, it’s great,” he said, enthusiastically. “The view’s terrific and you feel amazing when it’s over.” Ah, so it’s the FEAT, I thought. I looked around. The view was perfectly gorgeous, but I couldn’t help but remember that I had another 90 minutes at least in front of me, staring at those other feet, before that amazing feeling might show up. I know you’re not supposed say this, but it never quite came. I’m not complaining. I’m awed by the difficulty of the endeavor and by the zillions of people who hike for the challenge and the fun on a regular basis. And one thing’s for sure: I’ve since met some of the fabulous women I’ll be joining on this adventure (www.kiliclimb2016.com, details forthcoming) and I know Kili’s going to be a lot more fun with them by my side. The truth is, I’m wildly unbalanced about this whole thing. Sometimes I’m very psyched. Other times I cannot believe that I ever embarked on this journey. I know it has to do with losing Billy and Eleanor, but I understand deeply that it’s also for me. Admitting that is tricky, because by many measures I have a wonderful life: a fabulous husband, terrific sons, a wonderful career…so what the hell am I breaking through exactly?? Does reclaiming myself mean a steady, mindful gaze downward as I move upward, not knowing when the moment might come when I simply reach my capacity…and fail? Perhaps the imbalance is simply a part of the experience, part of life, part of a cycle that can often be painful, difficult, challenging. What we make of this slice of our pie seems to be our choice. How we feel is something else. I know my task here is to stay open to what is happening and keep on keeping on. Maybe fun is overrated…and maybe it will surprise me later. In the meantime, I continue doing what the Kili trainers suggest and recommit daily to Shatterproof (to contribute: www.fundraise.shatterproof.org/EdieOnKili), doing my part in putting an end to the disease of drug addiction. That and soaking my feet every day…

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