I can’t really describe my three weeks walking to Everest Base Camp, I think I might still be in shock – it was certainly an adventure, and the scenery was spectacular, and the Sherpas brilliant (so patient, and so tough!) but I think you have to be pretty hard (certainly much harder than me!) to really enjoy it: 50% of the normal oxygen, altitude sickness, minus 15 outside your tent, sleeping in your clothes for two weeks, and don’t even ask about the toilets. But what can we learn? Here are random thoughts, I hope you like them!
- It’s good to come out of your comfort zone every now and then. It makes you think, it makes you learn, it makes you stronger. But maybe not too far outside it, just extend it a bit at a time. Have you been out of your comfort zone this year? How will you do it next year?
- Don’t take the bathroom for granted! Or hot showers! Or sofas! Or your health generally. Not been aching today? Not been sick? Well maybe that’s a result! The small things get us down but really, life’s not that bad! What can you appreciate today, that most people in the world don’t’ have?
- Who are you doing it for? If you are doing things you don’t enjoy in order to impress your friends then that’s not very sensible. Do it for yourself, or don’t do it.
- You can’t impress a mountain. They are just THERE, and we do our stuff and maybe get to the top or maybe not (three people died on a mountain called Ama Dablam while I was there at the bottom of it) but the mountains just sit there. And what I mean by this is that big things like companies, Councils, the NHS, the economy etc aren’t interested in us, so we should realise that our doubts and fears and ambitions are only in our heads. As my wife’s grandmother used to day, “nobody will stop their carriage to look at you”.
- Sometimes planning ahead isn’t a good idea. I kept asking the Sherpas “are we nearly there yet?” or the slightly more sophisticated “Is it about two more hours, do you think?” and they would say “maybe”. They just do it one step at a time, focussing on the present, just the little bit of the hill they are on. If you start thinking about the whole thing you could easily go mad. Clearly you need a plan, but then you focus on just the bit you are doing now. Tennis players are the same – if you start thinking about winning (or losing) the set you are stuffed – you just have to win it one shot at a time.
- So much is in the mind. I found that my beats per minute ipod playlists were fantastic, (see forum) they got me plodding up the hills at just the right speed, and the weird thing was these extra reserves of stamina seemed to come instantly from nowhere when the music came on. Without it I felt exhausted. How can this be? Even something as simple as walking is mostly in the mind.
- It’s the people – most of the pleasure came from the people I was with, the people I met, and the Sherpas we walked with. So whether you are on holiday or working on a project, make the effort to get to know the other people.
- Nothing is REALLY difficult. If someone says that phoning a customer or learning to use some software or working until late is hard, believe me, it’s not really! Don’t complain and don’t give it up, you don’t know the meaning of hard. After they have finished carrying our stuff the Sherpas said goodbye to us and then set out on their three day walk home (unpaid). Three days just to walk home – now that’s hard! That’s what I will tell myself from now on. Of course within a couple of weeks I’ll have forgotten all this and will saying it’s too much hassle to put my bike away in the shed…
- Would I go again, knowing what I now know about what’s involved? Yes actually. But once is enough!
Onwards and upwards (to 5500 metres in this case)
PS – Pendulum’s album “In Silico”: I love it. The track Propane Nightmares: fantastic! Just don’t drive to it or you might go too fast…