After climbing for three weeks in Thailand I was ready to leave and…I wasn’t.
I was ready to leave behind the combined eight days I spent sick from food poisoning.
I was ready to leave the mosquitoes and thick layer of sweat, bug spray and sand my body had accumulated.
I was willing to give up the hot, sticky, 30 minute walk to the wall that held my elusive climbing project.
I was not, however, ready to say good-bye to my new like-minded and inspiring friends.
I was not ready to watch the callouses on my fingers, evidence of my time and effort, shrivel up and peel off.
I was not prepared to walk away from the project I had spent three days on just to unlock the key to its, very precise, and delicate dance.
I was not ready to give up the preoccupation and obsessive thinking about a route that, for now, will have to remain undone.
As we boarded the long tail boat that morning and headed for the mainland, I tried to come to terms with the fact that all the time, energy and effort I had devoted to finishing what I had started seemed to be all for nothing. I hadn’t accomplished anything. I was disappointed in my abilities to finish what I started both mentally and physically.
It wasn’t until later that day, as I was catching up with the virtual world, that I opened an email from a new friend I had made while climbing. He apologized for not having said good-bye before he left by saying this:
“If you leave things undone, there is a greater karmic chance you will meet again to finish what was left undone.”
For him it was a simple email, for me it was the missing piece. It made sense. I hadn’t completed the route for a reason. Thinking about it now, I believe I am meant to learn compassion and forgiveness from that route. Not towards others, although that’s always good, but towards myself.
I have always been, as many of us are, my own worst critic, especially when climbing. It’s something that has come to mean so much to me that when I fail, I feel embarrassed and vulnerable. My inner monologue scolds me, “You dedicate all your time and energy to climbing, how could you not be better, stronger?” It’s a hard line to swallow because the truth is there will always be someone better and stronger.
Recently, I have been making a conscious effort to be more kind and gentle with myself. I try to complement my efforts, praise my accomplishments (even the tiny ones) and allow myself the luxury of resting.
Yes, the project will remain undone, for now, but how much has it taught me in the process? How much stronger has it made me for the next line I won’t be able to get out of mind?
For whatever reason, as hard as I tried, I was never meant to finish that line, at least not on this trip. It seems it still has something to teach me that I haven’t yet unlocked.
As for my friend, it seems our days of climbing together have also been left undone, and for that I am grateful.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Jonn Jeanneret