When I left to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, I had many intentions.
I would break through my inner glass ceiling, connect to my inner self, meticulously journal, kill my routines, exercise, drink the ideal amount of water (stay hydrated but avoid using my ‘she-wee’), be fully present, have fun, take stunning images, run my coaching calls like a boss…etc.
The only thing NOT explicitly on my intention list was ‘make it to the top’.
Strange, but true.
As you may have guessed, my travel intentions were…ambitious.
AND, you also likely won’t be surprised when I tell you that I overestimated what I would actually end up fitting in.
After 2 days of travel I was, as foreshadowed, behind. Determined to get back on track, I found myself hiding in a corner of my pre-hike compound, scarfing down a cup of coffee and huddled over my journal (secretly hoping no one would talk to me). I wanted to remember EVERYTHING. It was as if I was jotting down the cure for cancer (think Gollum, but with a pen and a journal vs a ring).
At some point, I looked up.
Off in the distance, under a thick layer of clouds was Mt. Kilimanjaro…or at least I suspected it would be there if the clouds would lift for a hot minute.
And it hit me.
What on earth was I doing?
I was in Africa, one of the most beautiful places on earth, and here I was, hunched over a journal instead of experiencing the magic that was everywhere around me.
Mountain lesson #1.
To a mountain, time does not exist. Or, it exists as an entity, not an enemy. The mountain is patient, not stuck in minutia - not stopping in any given moment to take notes, please others or rush to what is next.
How often did I miss true connection b/c of ‘doing’? How often was I irritated or on an agenda, wanting to avoid interacting or missing an extraordinary experience to check an ‘it must be done this way’ box? How often was I controlling vs being in flow?
The people in Moshi have a saying - Pole Pole (pOl-eh pOl-eh) - which means “slowly, slowly”.
It is incredibly powerful.
A reminder to be conscious, patient and in relationship with both inner and outer worlds, Pole Pole calls for mindfulness and awareness of where and why energy is invested. It is also a challenge - WHY get antsy to arrive wherever it is we think we ‘need’ to go?
It calls us to be in relationship with time.
I am not sure what my next steps were because I stopped writing and closed my journal.
I remember the shape of the courtyard flowers as I returned to my room and the brilliance of their colour (which was invigorating). Unique prickly hedge leaves looked as if they did not know whether they wanted to be a cactus or a shrub and some odd, fluffy blossoms adorned a nearby tree as if someone had thrown a bag of pom-poms into the branches and left it there.
I was not going to STOP journaling altogether, but I understood in those moments that I would dial back the “frantic” energy of it all. The mountain had shared valuable insight and I was not going to miss the myriad of fantastical sights, sounds and experiences of Moshi, nor the unparalleled magic of the Serengeti to take immaculate notes.
Thanks to the mountain I would not miss my own trip.