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Everest Journals 2005 #10.

Handshakes and Hugs

 April 23, 2005

By: Mike Swarbrick

The sun is warm here in Kathmandu. The tropical trees bathe me in softly diffused green light. A monkey is waiting in the tree above the courtyard for the banana’s to ripen on the vine. On the street, old vehicles stir up the dust and the pedestrians. My heart is heavy from good-byes. Our old friend Ben is in the air and on his way home to meet an ambulance in Toronto. His good-bye handshake was strong. His resolve to heal quickly, stronger.

     The facts I got wrong on the hill after midnight on the 19th are as follows: Ben straightened his own broken leg at the top of the ice-fall, then he and Shaunna splinted the break from further damage before the Sherpa’s were allowed to move him to a safer location. Ow!

     Hours earlier today, Shaunna hugged us both before flying back to Lukla. Here she will meet “smiling” Lakpa Nero Sherpa. They will both eventually make thier way back to base-camp where Shaunna will soon resume her struggle for the top of the Earth.

     Knowing Shaunna, she will likely practice some yoga on the steep, narrow trails. She will stretch her muscles and she will stretch her mind. She will visualize herself on the familiar South route that she will soon climb. She will force herself to endure the pain of each step into thin air. She will feel the cold, dry wind burn her throat, her lungs and her skin. Recreating and overcoming these challenges in her mind will give her the confidence and the resources necessary to deal with these cruel obstacles when they are truly encountered and she will be prepared.

     Each of us face challenges in our lives everyday. It’s how we decide to carry these numerous weights that defines and shapes our very soul. Shaunna will face a multitude of barriers, built by nature, that many before her have faced and relatively few have overcome.

     Everest is also known locally as Sagarmatha (Mother Goddess of the Earth). If Sagarmatha smiles on Shaunna with reasonable weather this year. I feel confident that this mountain will have little choice but to share her summit for a while with this fine, focused, remarkably fit young all Canadian athlete.

     All that being said; remember that no matter how hard we struggle towards a destination in our lives. It’s what we can learn from the journey that is really important.



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