Standing at the base of Mount Batur, Bali, ready for the overnight hike, ready for sunrise. Eight people, together for a climb, some friends, some strangers, all set for a challenge. All set to reach a goal. All set for the sunrise. All have expectations. All unaware of the journey.
We’d arrived at the base of the volcano a little after 3am. It’s the standard tourist climb; get a driver, hike a bit, arrive at the summit for sunrise, get a bit cold waiting for the sun. Take loads of photos, have a warm drink, get back down and sit in some hot springs. Standard.
The abilities of the group varied from the energetic, let’s just get to the top’ers, to, will I even make it’s. The rain started as soon as we hit the path. As if the sky was crying endless tears. Two people had no waterproofs. Great. Patience. Rearrange our kit. Keep walking. Soaked through.
Walking. You know those moments where it’s one foot in front of the next? Dark, the click of the insects humming in the background, the cool, damp air on your lungs. The hush from the rain, the anticipation of what the morning would bring. A time to find your rhythm, a walking meditation, thoughts come and go, come and go.
The two guides were in a hurry to get to the top. C & N guiding the troops, in a race with themselves, the guides, life. Proving something. Not sure what. A is trailing at the back. P & J looking concerned. Saying nothing.
Feeling alive. Feel that feeling. The wind is blowing us back and forth. Two steps forward, one step back. Thoughts are flying. Keep walking. How do we keep everyone together? Do we need to stay together? Do we split? Who are these people?
A was trailing;
R: “are you ok?’,
A: “I can’t breathe”,
R: “oh, shit”,
A: “I forgot my inhaler”,
R: “double shit”. What to do.
Slow down. Take a moment. Don’t make a scene. She has been suffering in silence. Ask for help. Shall we stop? A disagreement. Frustration. The push – pull of task versus human. What to do. SLOW DOWN. It’s the journey, it’s about the journey. Ego’s flaring and waning. A heated and polite discussion. Do we stay together? Are we individuals or a team? Together, we stay together.
We plod on. The black sand gets deeper as the incline increases. Shoes are weighed down by the dust of volcanic rocks. Stand up, don’t let the wind blow you over. We move consistently, challenging the wind to shove us up faster. The air is moist, our skin covered in water. The summit, our destination calling us. Tempting us with expectations. Expectations that we play out in life too. Will it be good enough?
We reach the crater. Yes! Gazing to the horizon there are thick rain clouds. Wet through. Eight comrades arrive from their individual journey, from the team journey. Relief washes over as they come together, laughter, dancing in the rain, a deep breath, a group hug.
The sky clears just for a moment in the distance. When clouds give way to clarity. Out of nowhere we shout so loud even the spirits can hear us. The internal gremlins of the journey are blown away by the wind. As if we play a trick on life itself.
Someone asks: “If this journey was a metaphor for life what would it be”?
“Let go of your pride and ask for help”
“Whatever you do, do it together”
“Stop trying to prove something and enjoy yourself”
“Dancing in a storm, gives way to clarity”
“You can do more than you know you can”
“Talk to a stranger, you never know where you may end up”
“Every moment is what you choose it to be, choose it to be good”
As we enter 2017, I wonder, how those metaphors could apply for all of us? What journey are you on? Who is with you? Where is the conflict you can let go of? Where can you ‘do it’ together?
Because after all, Life is a journey, not a destination.
Rachel Allan, Transitions Coach: Beautiful soul, living and exploring Bali
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