What I Learned on Mt. Rainier

Marissa Ice Climbing Rainier

Here’s post #2 about the Mt. Rainier summit.

It seems like the summit happened 10 years ago. Life in Point Hope, AK has taken over everything. Living in the moment never felt so good.

But, it all started on Mt. Rainier. Climbing a 14,000 foot mountain requires flexibility, yet discipline. Being the only lass in a group of 12 other lads, flexibility was key.

I learned a lot about how to communicate effectively with strangers in a group. There were times I took the back seat, and just listened to people’s stories. But there were other times when I spoke up to contribute. Several times the guides mentioned the questions I asked during our “classroom” sessions were “good questions”. My mind really wanted to learn, & grasp the concepts.

But, the climb on the rocks was simply hellish. It was 2AM, we could only see a half-foot radius around our feet via headlamp, and it was cold, the trail was steep. This is where I dug into my core psyche self, as well as physical self, and simply accepted what the mountain offered. There was nothing I could do; couldn’t go back down if I wanted to. Even if I did, I had to wait until the next rest stop in a safe zone anyway. The only thing to do was keep going. This was true, even when I fell.

A few of us on that rope team were crabby during the rocky trail sections. But, the mountain didn’t care. It was going to be there whether we were crabby or not. After the rocky bits, my mood lifted, and I began to truly enjoy the climb. By the top, my excitement & exuberance at making it quickly shooed away the crabby feelings hours earlier. The sun had risen, it was a new day, and our team was literally “on top”.

These moments were also plentiful when I traveled through Asia 10 years ago. Although it took a little longer this time, with age, financial status, & a few other factors contributing, I have found my “sea legs” and fully belly-flopped into “travel mode” or “on the road mode”.

But, what about when I return from this journey and “settle down” or find a more permanent “home” again?

Within a year of returning from China, I had an office job, purchased an apartment, and began to climb the ladder of stress. Ten years out, I nearly had an emotional breakdown from the intensity of the corporate world, a career that didn’t fit me, and a lifestyle that wasn’t sustainable below 6 figures.

I don’t ever want this to happen again, ever.

Now that this second round of Travel Fun has manifested in my life, I don’t want to make the same mistake. At the risk of “future tripping”, I want to take the comfort I feel every day in trusting that the Universe will provide for me even when the traveling is done. One gal I interviewed back in the Bay Area mentioned how she didn’t need to go on long backpacking trips anymore to experience peace: she had that peace inside now.

I would like to be conscious, and aware, and do things differently this go around. I would like the peace of knowing my needs will be met (certainly not without effort on my part), on the _inside_, in my heart. The biggest hurdle will be to trust that a financial path will open up to me somehow, some way, doing the things I love to do. As zen as I may have become in this sleepy village of 800 on the North Slope of Alaska, this one point is still tinged with fear.  I would like my heart to have deep muscle memory of trust.

Yet, the last 5 days have been full of “chance” encounters, coincidences that are not so coincidental, and amazing serendipity like I’ve never seen. Clearly there is someone behind a cosmic curtain, orchestrating things like us feeble-minded humans never could. I’ve been fed, sheltered, granted interviews, shown historical sites that date back 1,000’s of years, and welcomed into the homes of people here in Point Hope, AK. It is absolutely beyond my imagination what would happen here.

The key factor leading to all of this: an open heart. Staying open to what unfolded, not trying to control it, and not judging the people I met, or experiences I witnessed. Second to that but almost equal: staying present. By maintaining openness, I can stay present and roll with the flow of things. If something doesn’t work out, it’s completely ok, because the moment will change & something else will happen next anyway.

Just yesterday I accidently deleted a file from my camera of an interview from someone here in town. Hopefully, fingers crossed, it’s still on the audio backup file. It’s fine. I can fill in other images over her voice. When that moment happened, just like the rocky path with my crampons, I accepted it & moved on with the current interview in front of me. There’s nothing to do but move forward, just like climbing Mt. Rainier. Only when there’s a “rest stop” (like after the interview is done), can an assessment take place.

Why am I writing all this? It’s to re-double my commitment to you, readers, and to myself. It’s taken me til now to realize why I’m even on this journey: to live a life without fear. Although I had parts of this notion in my heart up to & immediately prior to leaving, only now that I’m actually at my first destination is the truth revealing itself more fully.

There’s more to this, but I’ll save it for the posts on Point Hope, AK. Meanwhile, my commitment is official: I commit to living a life without fear. I commit to living a life trusting that I will be provided for. I commit to a life in gratitude.

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