PART 3: THE STAGES OF SUCCESS
For me the roller coaster of excitement and anticipation through the phases of hard work and determination moved into doubt and fatigue, escalated into grief, loss and anger, which opened the doorways for forgiveness and acceptance before I even got to the summit.
Moments of sheer bliss and exuberance filled me also. I dangled from a thread over sheer nothingness—the ground thousands of feet below me. The beauty was astounding and awe inspiring, I didn’t know if it was the view or the altitude that took my breath away.
Throughout the hours that made up the summit day, I encountered every emotion. My cells were wrung out, cleansed and rebooted.
Faith was my lifeline.
Knowing that whatever happened was OK, brought me solace.
Success isn’t linear or pretty or stable or guaranteed…
Success isn’t about the destination.
Arriving at the summit was profoundly fantastic but somewhat anti-climactic to the inner journey I had been on.
Little did I know that the descent would challenge me too.
We had no water left. All I had eaten in the previous 12 hours had been power bars, peanut butter sandwiches, Reese’s Pieces and trail mix, which really put a damper on my usual Ayurvedically appropriate food choices. I had pains in my stomach, perhaps from the altitude but more likely from the dry foods.
Fatigue and dehydration overwhelmed me.
Down climbing is treacherous on the knees and there was so much scree that I fell on my ass thrice. Mick kindly offered to carry my backpack for me and I thought no way this is the only padding I have for when I topple over.
I stumbled back to our rocky base camp and lied down in the tent. My head was pounding from the altitude and dehydration; I had to hold my skull in my hands to relieve the tension.
Peter quickly made Ramen noodles and delivered them to the tent door. They were the best Raman noodles I had ever tasted. I was so touched by his care and so full of gratitude, despite my inner voice telling me how pathetic I was not to be a full functioning human at that point in time.
Advil is a beautiful thing…I took two extra strength capsules at once. That may have been once of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Throughout the dark night I could see other climbers in the distance walking along the trail with their headlamps on-going up, coming down.
In the morning the sun broke the sky open and sent light flashing onto the Middle Teton, reminding me how lucky I was to be alive having this awesome human experience.
After having to skillfully pooh into a tiny silver bag, I strapped it to the outside of my backpack before beginning our four-hour hike out of the mountains.
The sun was blazing, we hiked from the rocky terrain eventually back to a level where vegetation could grow, into lush meadows with mountain streams running through and then into the dry forest landscape where we began.
I fantasized about what I would eat at the Lotus Café in Jackson Hole once we got out. I imagined what it would feel like to have a shower and put on clean clothes, even though it would be the next day before that actually happened.
Flying back to Seattle in the little four-seater Bonanza was quiet and peaceful. The Dream Team had bonded and succeeded together. But it struck me that even if we hadn’t made it to the summit of the Grand Teton our trip would have been a huge success. It’s never about getting to the top. It’s about the how.
It’s about the teamwork and the kindness and the humanity that exists beyond our individual goals and ego-driven agendas.
Success is about the process and the quality of life moving through you during the journey because in life we only spend a few moments at the summit.
We get to the top, eat some chips, take some photos and leave. Proportionally being at the top is a fleeting moment to the journey it took to being there.
Don’t loose sight of your dreams but don’t let your dreams take you out of your reality.
Your life is now. How are you living it?
And when I was asked, “Would you do it again?” A smile came across my face, “Hell yes!”
It was one of the best trips of my life.