It’s December – and for many that means a downhill slide into holiday mode; a panic for many parents about what to do with children on holiday and navigating the busy malls for Christmas presents.
To me, it represents 11 months of successfully achieving what I set out to do in January: 336 successful climbs up Table Mountain out of 365 with no injuries or any illnesses worth speaking about and 29 days to go…
I cannot begin to express my gratitude enough for my healthy body and legs – even though it’s something I do before every climb.
November’s a wonderful birthday month for me as well many friends and family; all Valentines Day babies methinks.
I’d always known my birthday was 56 days away from the end of the year but never calculated that meant it was the 309th day of the year.
This year I turned 39. You can’t script things like this and has been the type of amazing synchronicity experienced all year to remind me how special this year was meant to be.
And not just on one or two days – but all of them.
Looking back – Before you look Forward
I invite people climbing with me to take a moment to look back down the mountain; to appreciate for a moment how far they’ve come and what they’ve already accomplished.
Goals are great. They give me a direction to work towards and purpose in some cases. I’ve learned that climbing mountains gives me opportunities to learn valuable life lessons, one of which is – that the end goal and view at the top is not the be all and end all. Its about learning to value beauty in each step as much as the view at the top.
It can be a hard slog no doubt – but no one ever said you had to do the whole thing in one go. We’re allowed to stop every now again and look around.
That’s what I feel like I’m doing now with climb 337 looming. Stopping and looking around at whats come before me.
People have experienced snippets of what I’ve been through but as with most things in life, until experienced for yourself you can never truly understand.
The closer I get to the end now the further away it feels; I haven’t had a day off all year.
Daily Thinking for Final Stretch
I learned when I get closer to the top and/or the bottom, my tendency is to want to ‘just get there’. This is how accidents happen. When I try push my already fatigued body and mind, I lose focus and start thinking about the end instead of the next step – so I’ve taught myself to maintain the same steady pace no matter how close to the end and excited I become.
I need to do just that for the next 28 days.
With immense excitement looming it’s hard. When your girlfriend (who lives in San Francisco) is flying in under 2 weeks time and your whole family will be coming down from Johannesburg around Christmas time to support me; the mind has plenty to distract you with.
Distracted is dangerous, just look at car accident statistics – an estimated 52% happen within 8km of the home.
I sat with my performance coach around what data we’re going to measure this last month that can be used to analyse my efforts when I’m done. Heart rates, sleeping, emotional state, physical state you name it. We can compare these stats when I’m fresh again next month and do speed tests on the same route.
This is the most dangerous time now, these next few weeks. Keep the mind strong.
These words from him are valuable – particularly that I’ve fallen twice in ten days in exactly the same spot on the way down. Luckily just caused a stiff ankle nothing sprained.
It happens that quickly.
Distractions are compounded by every person you meet asking “whats next?!” and “what are you going to do on January 1st?”
At least the second one is easy to answer: I’m doing my 366th climb in a row and my last solo climb. This is to take stock of what I’ve accomplished in 2018 and how many people we – you and I – have helped by donating time and money to those living in appalling conditions.
Fulfillment comes from walking your most authentic path; Significance is when you can align that to empowering others in the process.
Its interesting to me how people’s reactions have flowed since having this idea.
1st Phase: That’s crazy, why on earth would you want to do that for a whole year?
2nd Phase: (usually only hear this much later on) you’ll never finish
3rd Phase: Oh you’re going to miss this when you not climbing anymore
4th Phase: Whats next??
(sidenote – asking what’s next is expected from someone who’s asked all the relevant questions and understands the persons current feelings and state of mind)
Lessons from these Questions
Very few people are ever willing to sit with someone in their pain or discomfort and challenges. The reality is no one is on this planet to save anyone else. Not when it comes to how you think and what you choose and how you act.
- Stop projecting
Recognising that all my responses are based on my experiences and what I would do in that person’s situation.
- Ask questions
Listening to understand means asking questions to learn where someone is right now.
- Think about the present
Its always easier to say than do but getting a gauge of where someone is right now based on what has happened, is far better than trying to play crystal ball and predict what someone’s future will be. The future is made up of tons of ‘right now’ decisions.
- Not my job to convince
Whether my project, religion, Politics, diets, exercise regimes – you name it. It’s not my jobs to convince people whats right for them. It’s my job to hold people accountable to learn to think for themselves and use what they know in action of service to others. What good is it knowing something great and keeping it all to yourself? Significance…
- Empathy and understanding
Understanding what someone is going through from their perspective means I can learn why they do certain things or behave in a particular manner. Just because something seems illogical to me, doesn’t mean its very real for them.
One of the greatest things I’m doing, is learning from other’s behaviour. Sometimes most of these things appear innocent and not detrimental to others. And maybe it isn’t. But is it not worth behaving in a way that helps someone in your life feel completely supported and safe to share their current state of mind?
We live in a world fraught with enough pain and negativity – its time for each individual to start evaluating if they feeding that; or if they shining a spotlight on where all the beauty in this world lies.
I know what I’m choosing
Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018 and raising money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity (housing) One Heart (Education) and The Sunflower Fund (Leukaemia) by inviting people to sponsor R1 per climb. head over to http://www.365climbs.com to be part of the Ubuntu Family.