I love using the analogy of climbing mountains when it comes to talking about challenges in life. On my trip to Thailand in January, I had one of those great life changing moments and it happens to involve climbing a mountain. One the second last night in Thailand, I ended up having the most dreadful food poisoning experience. This was extra unfortunately timed as I had been looking forward to climbing the Tiger Temple steps throughout the whole trip. The tiger temple is in Krabi and has 1237 steps to walk in order to get to the top. I also have to mention that I struggle with asthma and I do not sweat properly, which makes walking stairs in the heat extra challenging.
The last day of my trip arrives and I am recovering from food poisoning, I have not eaten and I am covered in a heat rash. There was a very strong voice inside of me saying “Chauntell, you can’t do it! Stay at the hotel and lounge by the pool.. you will be much more comfortable!” I even listened to this voice for a large part of that last day. I felt pretty dreadful but I also worried about missing out on an amazing experience. I told myself that I would at least go to the bottom of the stairs. When we got to the stairs I actually gave my camera to my partner John and I asked him to take some photos at the top if I didn’t make it! I started walking up the stairs and everyone else in my group seemed to be gone in seconds as the headed towards the top of the mountain. My inner voice said “Wait for them at the bottom!” I would walk about 20 stairs at a time, stopping at every landing to sit down and catch my breath and sprat water on myself. When I would get myself back together I would walk another 20 or so steps. The whole time I struggled with my mind telling me to just give up. When I would sit and take my rests, I enjoyed a beautiful view of Thailand scenery. The scenery changed from every vantage point, reminding me that I was getting closer to the top. When I stopped to take breaks I also had the opportunity to observe other people heading up the stairs. All of them were encouraging other stair walkers and one guy actually carried his girlfriend up many of the stairs.
Halfway up the stairs there were monkeys playing with each other and being mischievous. I even saw a few monkeys helping one onto a little roof. I could have sat there all day watching those monkeys.
Taking my time, I continued up towards the top of the mountain, unable to even see the peak. After 40 minutes, a man on his way back down jokingly said “You’re about halfway!” I questioned if I would ever make it because it was hard to see how much further I had to go. Moments later, John was on his way back down and he said “You’re almost there!” and he walked the last remaining steps with me.
At the top there was water, an amazing big gold giant Buddha and a gong to ring. Drinking that water, seeing the big Buddha and ringing that gong brought more pleasure to me that I ever thought possible. It was in those moments that I truly felt successful.
It did not matter that other people had managed to get up the stairs in 16 minutes compared to my 40 something minutes. What mattered to me was that I made it and I found a way to enjoy the process. I was surprised when the other people in my group said they were proud of me and congratulated me. How great it is to celebrate each others victories, no matter how small or how long it took someone to get there. We all have our own mountains that we are trying to conquer every day. Sometimes it may seem like we will never reach the top… but every mountaintop is within reach if you just keep climbing.
You may not reach the top at the same time as everyone else, but if you keep moving towards your goals a step at a time, you will get there! On the way, make time to enjoy where you are at. Take in every moment along the way and enjoy it for what it has to offer you, but remember to keep moving. Doing it with others helps too! Keep people in your life that support you and believe in you and celebrate other people’s victories as well.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t - you’re right.”
- Henry Ford