It’s been almost 6 years since I went to Tanzania to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro. An event in my life that I don’t really bring up because I don’t want to be placed on a pedestal. Since the peak is so far away and seemingly insurmountable to people, if brought up, they automatically think I am some amazingly strong person. But in reality I am stronger now than I was in Africa. I didn’t like to talk about Kili because I didn’t want to seem better than I actually was, but really I should talk about it more because I should encourage others to learn what I learned on top of that mountain.
Last November I was having dinner with my uncle, aunt and cousin Kaitlin and my uncle brought up Kili.
“So you went to Africa to climb that mountain. What did you learn?”
I thought a moment and replied, “The only obstacles are mental.”
It felt good to say it outloud finally. I think I had always known or maybe even written about this idea, but now I had finally said it, 6 years later. Rather, I learned it and relearned it with every seemingly insurmountable thing I did in the past 6 years…the MS150(x2), Cycle Oregon, the SF Marathon, handstands, moving to a city where I only knew 1 person…etc. But I don’t condone the idea that any obstacle can be conquored. In 2013 I applied to 18 medical school and was rejected by all of them. Was it hard? Yes. Am I dissapointed? Hell yes. But I did it. I didn’t get in my own way and I have no regrets. I guess I could reword my statement to say something like, “Don’t let your fear dictate your limits.” I think you get my drift.
Aung San Suu Kyi would say, “The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.”
“What did you learn?” That is the kind of question we should be asking each other. Reflection is not accomplished nearly enough.
I know now that I can do a lot, not everything, but a lot. Since I’ve run half/full marathons and bike so much people wonder why I don’t do a triathlon or train for an Ironman. Well, because I don’t have any desire to do those things. I already know I could do it if I trained. I don’t need to actually do it. What I want now is to work on my relationships and to further my career.
I want a life where I will no longer have to worry about the financial stability of my family and will be free to travel the world, learn all the languages I want, and experience all the people I can.
I also want a best friend.