Perspectives on Lifelong Learning

Learning new City Renaissance Guy
From Cape Town to California

I’ve been procrastinating on my writing like you cannot believe since finishing my challenge – I think I’ve finally found a groove.

In many ways the past three months have shaped this first post of 2019, of which more will be coming your way as I ground my learning into tangible insights to share.

Coming to San Francisco is like becoming a child; I see and experience everything for the first time.

Fresh city smells as winter rains falls; sweeping views transformed as nights veil descends and the new sounds of their famous cable cars bustling down Washington Street. An overload for the five senses but more importantly: another opportunity to learn.

I forgot how many day to day decisions have become second nature that I take for granted:

Knowing where the grocery stores are, how long it takes to walk there. What food they have! How its laid out, what it costs, and even just what the difference in taste between 2 products is.

rwts4764.jpg
The juxtaposition of city by morning and lit up with lights

Then there’s figuring out how the city fits together like a jigsaw; how different our words are for the same thing – traffic lights not robots. Cilantro not coriander. People not understanding my accent on the phone. Finding a barber to cut my hair decently (that serves beer believe it or not!)

Which gym to choose?? I think you get the idea

In primary school, a Greek boy arrived age 6 speaking no English. The teachers encouraged us to be patient and be teachers ourselves.

Thankfully, I have an amazingly supportive partner that’s helping me (together with her friends) to learn and settle in quicker than doing it alone. Now I’m the Greek boy

Learning from others

One thing I’ve been blessed with, is having the opportunity to sit with, speak to and learn from inspirational people.

Renaissance Guy Learning to See Blog

Today’s post is dedicated to Joyce – our blind neighbour.

A Japanese American, Joyce has lived in San Francisco since the age of 22 in 1972. As an artistic woman, she expressed herself through dance and painting.

Her sight was always poor requiring her to wear glasses. As a ballerina she was unable to wear them during shows. She was never worried though because in practice, she learned to understand spatial awareness – not needing to see the edge of the stage, but rather operated in a finite piece of space.

As a painter, she constantly pushed herself to look at every day items from another perspective. To learn to see things differently. She loved the challenge and enjoyed it.

When she speaks to you about that, you feel her joy about that.

Fast forward to 1992 and she meets the love of her life. Wayne. Three years later she moves in with him – and hasn’t moved since.

Tragically, he died in 2011 and she was devastated. This is when I heard something I perhaps wouldn’t believe if it wasn’t first hand.

I lost the rest of my sight soon after that, and thankfully too. Having to learn the city all over again from a new perspective kept me away from the debilitating grief.’

Learning to ‘see’ again saved her life.

Watching and talking as we walk to dinner, she shares her knowledge of ‘seeing’ this way. Her spatial awareness is incredible – hitting a knobbled patch of pavement asked ‘is there an alley?’

There certainly was. She was spot on.

Sitting at the feet of Teachers

Okay – we were at a restaurant so it wasn’t exactly her feet, but it felt like I should be. Hearing her talk about catching the bus, buying groceries, going to her favourite restaurant and how cooking takes four hours were bringing learning a ‘new’ city into perspective.

Imagine going blind aged 61?

I don’t want to use the word terrified, but just closing my eyes trying to feed myself is a scary thought.

Not Joyce though, to escape her pain she threw herself into learning how to ‘see’ the world with this new experience.

She’d taught herself from an early age to be excited to learn new ways of experiencing things – and this was just another opportunity.

We were celebrating the Japanese tradition always done on 3rd of March (3) – Hinamatsuri or Girls Day. It’s interesting to note that Japanese do not celebrate Mothers or Fathers Day; they choose to celebrate what will come (the children) versus what has come (the parents)

She shared her knowledge about the fact Japan only opened its borders in 1853 – not by choice – but because an American Commodore demanded they open ports by sailing into it.

See from Others Perspectives.

Its not always what we do that’s harmful – but how we do it.

I learned that the hard way in my twenties; when I saw how I spoke to friends and family. How I spoke bordered on abuse.

Seeing Joyce in the streets perhaps you’d feel compelled to help, no? First thinking from our own perspective that it’s impossible to get around without someone helping.

Joyce gives some advice we can all learn from.

  1. Ask – instead of assuming someone needs help ask first. In many cases its more difficult being led by someone you don’t know or trust compared to walking with your cane. If someone was really in trouble, they’d cry out for help.
  2. Listen – when someone accepts help listen to how they need it. She prefers someone walking behind with hands on her shoulders and NOT in the middle of the sidewalk. When she walks alone, bright vest and cane, the curb provides her a straight edge compared with the middle. Like walking with your hand along a cliff face. As she says ‘close your eyes and tell me where straight is’ – a frequent command given to her.
  3. Respect – one woman yelled at her to get off the streets because its dangerous. Some people tug at her to walk with them. As you can imagine this can be quite distressing and more importantly – breaks her concentration. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. If you are curious, set an intention to find out just what life is like for someone living with a disability (as most people call it) or their gift.
  4. Change behaviour – Its one thing to change our own behaviour, but we can all do more to teach others how to stop feeling awkward when we meet or see someone with a disability. Just with most things in life – when in doubt speak up and I’ve never heard of someone being upset with someone that respectfully and genuinely wants to learn about another person’s circumstances.

Fresh Eyes

Walking around San Francisco, I pay much more attention to sidewalk cracks, how fire hydrants, lamp posts, signage, trees and post boxes are Joyce’s daily obstacle course. I’m more aware of colours, textures – and the ease and speed with which my five-minute walk up a nine-storey hill takes to get to our neighbourhood grocery store – a store that makes their own honey on the roof I might add!

Joyce is one of those people that radiates; with her smile, her words – and her heart.

She reminded me why one of my daily things I express gratitude for – is my five senses, to experience this incredible planet we live on.

Renaissance Guy Quote
I think both are true

Learning Perspective

 

365 Ubuntu Climbs PerspectiveOne of the gifts bestowed upon me this year comes in the form of perspective.

It’s easy to make snap judgements on what I see or hear; because let’s face it – most things I comment on (socially, politically, environmentally) are based on my own experiences and beliefs.

I’d like to share some mind shifts I’ve had through dedicating a year to climbing the same strenuous route up Table Mountain – Platteklip gorge (a route most people detest) every day.

I’m going to relate them back to the three organisations its supporting: Habitat for Humanity; One Heart and The Sunflower Fund.

  1. Don’t you get bored doing the same route every day?

Stuck in a hospital room

When you understand peoples behaviour reveals who they are, then you realise this question gives me an insight into what the person asking me is going through.

The short answer is the mountain and climb are different every single day. However,your mindset determines exactly what the outcome will be. Instead of saying “You’re doing this for a year?” I say, “I’m only doing this for a year”.

First statement creates struggle; second one generates gratitude – and all with one word.

It goes deeper than this, which I discovered when I was constantly asked the question and realised I needed to think deeper about it. I realised boredom is a lack of appreciation for the gifts you have every day. Your health, your legs, your eye sight.

Just ask a Leukaemia patient who’s not just stared death in the face, but upon receiving a transplant must face up to three months of solitary in hospital to reduce risk of infection during a vulnerable time.

Three. Months.

No outdoors. Limited interaction with friends and family. Now let’s talk about boredom and whether they would trade that room for a chance to climb a mountain every day.

  1. ‘Bad’ weather as an excuse

drowned shacks

I use inverted commas there because I no longer believe there’s bad weather; just bad preparation.

I’ve climbed in all kinds of treacherous weather ranging from heat waves to bitter cold; insane winds reaching 100km/h to torrential rain. Sometimes these can be combined.

The reality is: my challenge lasts 2-5 hours (depending who’s with me and weather conditions) and then I get to go home to secure flat that’s warm and dry.

It’s over for the day.

For the thirty million South Africans living in informal houses, every storm brings with it the panic of what will happen to my home. Flooding is most often a cause from torrential rain and the first family member home from work will start ‘emptying’ the water from their shack and attempt to dry what little items they have.

Wind means there’s potential for other homes to become missiles and your homes relentlessly battered on the Cape Flats by the wind. Until it stops – there is no respite.

shackfires

We can throw in fires on the mountain. These may mean having to choose different routes, but in an informal settlement can devastate thousands of shacks. All because one person may have been reckless causing many to lose every single item they own. The mountains vegetation and life will recover and so too will most people – but the people have nowhere else to go.

Not knowing how to read; living in poverty and time before a donor is found – are all 24/7, 52 weeks a year challenges until help and empowerment are given.

  1. I Can’t leave Cape Town

 

Klapmuts primary school 365 Ubuntu Climbs talk
Children at Klapmuts primary at the handover where I had the privilege to speak about what I’m doing and why

It’s true that committing to climbing every day means I’m ‘stuck’ here. Most people we are helping can’t ever leave Cape Town; never mind just one year.

This was highlighted to me when visiting Klapmuts primary where the principal and teachers explained most children have never seen Stellenbosch (15km away) and if they do – exclaim how big the buildings are. At most they’re seven stories high.

I love that on their school hall walls they have four murals: The Sphinx; The Statue of Liberty; The Sydney Opera house – and Table Mountain.

By helping teach these children to read they have a chance at an education and a chance at going there one day. And that – is priceless.

  1. Pain and Fatigue

I’m adding this one even though it’s not part of who we support because it’s such a valuable lesson.

My legs and body having no day off was always the great unknown. Becoming fixated on the pain and weariness of my legs on each climb is easy, and then I was taught a lesson by a special man.

Lifa broke his neck playing rugby and decided the doctors were wrong when they said “you’ll never walk again” – he’s slowly but surely taught himself to sit upright; then stand; and now walk with crutches. This man is beyond special.

Having successfully navigated Lions Head up and down with friends he wanted to climb Table Mountain. The people at Petro Jackson Fund had met me and sharing my story suggested getting in touch. He did – and only because he’d made it up Lions head, did I entertain the idea.

On climb 145 we made it to the Waterfall and due to time constraints – had to deliver the bad news we were turning around. We’d never make the cable car in time and going further only risked more chance of complications to climb back down. Repeat – time was why we wouldn’t make it. Remember, he’s climbing with crutches – and with more time I believe he would’ve made it.

Lifa Rock climb 145 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Lifa’s rock is the one in line with his head – yes he got up there!

For two hours I watched the human spirit in action with determination and smiles to match. I named that rock he sat on after him and every time I go past it, I think of him and I’m reminded that whatever pain I have in my legs – it’s something he and others hope to be able to experience one day.

His achievement fans my flames and that pain and fatigue reminds me what a gift the ability I have is, to do this every day.

 

  1. Graffiti on the Mountain

Bonus lesson.

On climb 106, I started for a late afternoon climb, with enough time to see the sunset. Within fifty stairs, I saw the first of fourteen rocks spray painted. Not tiny things – entire boulders with the last reminder two thirds up.

It was disgusting and hideous to think that someone could do this. I was trying to contain my anger when something completely opposite occurred. I had two missed calls for the Safety Mountain Tracking people.

Andrew, we have a hiker in distress on Smuts track and you’re the closest – can you help us?

At this stage I was at my fittest and still feeling fresh, so I was able to climb the rest (a little more than halfway) in thirty minutes and then trail run along the eastern table to the highest point, Maclears beacon, and then down smuts track to where the five people were with two SANParks rangers.

Thankfully, because this would be crucial later.

The helicopter was unable to land on the incline and so rescue teams had to carry the woman down. I’d stupidly taken my torch out my bag thinking there was no need for it. How wrong I was.

The ranger asked if I could lead the four people back down Skeleton gorge but with fading light and no torches, I suggested radioing the cable station to ask to wait for us. They agreed and the safer option along the top was what we took. Before setting off, I saw one friend removing the woman’s jewellery and phone; it was only then I realised she’d passed away – a heart attack.

Fading light climb 106 365 Ubuntu Climbs
The cable station sits alone (middle) in the distance as I race to the distressed hikers
Life and death climb 106 365 Ubuntu Climbs
View south as I race along

Those spare minutes gained earlier enabled us to navigate the climb back up to the top table in twilight safely. Along the top, we passed two rescue teams thankfully with spare lights for the final stretch in darkness. Darkness wasn’t what made this the most difficult walk of my life though.

The four friends were in a complete state of shock and showed immense gratitude when we finally arrived back down safely.

At the bottom, I was no longer thinking about the graffiti.

Final understanding

I used to misconstrue having something that others; like legs that work, or opportunities, or money, as something to feel guilty about.

I’ve subsequently learned guilt is wasted energy. Instead I now do two things:

  1. Appreciate what I have even more
  2. Use my gifts/opportunities to empower those born into more challenging circumstances than my own.

The choice is ours.

See you on the mountain.

perspective quote 365 Ubuntu Climbs

Andrew Patterson has climbed every day in 2018 to raise money for three incredible organisations. To be part of the change you wish to see in the world head over to http://www.365climbs.com and add your voice to become part of the Ubuntu Family

Taking Stock of 2018

Table Mountain Panoramic 365 Ubuntu Climb summit

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.

Sunset climbing back down 365 Ubuntu Climbs Cape Town Table Mountain

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.

A wall of cloud on the summit of a 365 Ubuntu Climb Table Mountain
These kinds of majestic gems await me on some of my summits

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.

  1. Stop projecting

Recognising that all my responses are based on my experiences and what I would do in that person’s situation.

  1. Ask questions

Listening to understand means asking questions to learn where someone is right now.

  1. 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.

  1. 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…

  1. 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.

Misty Cable car Table Mountain 365 Ubuntu Climbs
We don’t always see where we going – but taking action every day means we’ll get there eventually

Final thoughts

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.

Andrew Patterson 365 Ubuntu Climbs Table Mountain

 

A Week to Remember

365 Ubuntu Climbs Halfway view
After several days in rain and poor visibility – this greeted me on my halfway hike

Week 27 sees me starting on a memorable day – exactly halfway.

182 days behind me.365 Ubuntu Climbs halfway mark

182 days ahead of me. 365 Ubuntu CLimbs halfway mark up

Half way rock’s where my moment takes place (albeit that I must hike back down due to strong icy winds.) It snowed up top this morning but due to constant waves of rain predicted I chose the drier afternoon. After three days in the wet, I can safely say I loved being dry and having a view up top as well. Hard to believe I’ve climbed the equivalent vertical kilometers of 37 Mt Everest’s and raised R226 000. I’m very proud of what has been achieved with the help of all of you.

Interesting thought is that in life, we have no idea of when halfway will be. At any moment we could have less days ahead of us than we’ve got behind us.

I celebrate with two of my favourite ladies – Lisa and Jessie – at Mykonos in Sea Point. My brain still doesn’t compute that I’ve done 183 days (at that point) which is the equivalent of thirty-seven Mt Everest’s. How appropriate too then, that they’ve both done the most number of hikes; Lisa 19 Jessie 13 (at the end of her week here from San Francisco)

There isn’t enough paper in the world to talk about how special these two are and how they define support. Perhaps a chapter dedicated to each in my book is needed.

Wednesday Bonus

Joined by Carrey and her son, the four of us including Jessie on her second consecutive day, end up chatting to a tourist wondering if he’s on the right track.  William is from Holland and three days into his month-long visit.

We welcome him to join us instead of hiking alone. I’m rewarded with his tales of why he chose South Africa and that he spent a month in Nepal the previous year. I might not be able to travel this year, but with all the tourists that have joined me thus far? I feel I’ve been to many distant lands.

At 24 this man already is far wiser than his years.

Sharing his experience of acclimatizing to Nepal’s food, culture, altitude and being alone reminded me of my trip to Iceland and the value of traveling alone. His plan is to get tattoos from each place that speaks to what he learned while there.

His Nepal tattoo is incredible.  Just the story on the tiny village it was done in would be enough. Written in Nepalese, its one of their beliefs: Everyone you meet is superior to you in some way.

Gold nugget: In writing this I’m making notes to do my best to listen (not hear) more to understand what people share instead of just trying to respond with what I already know.

We head to Mojo market for a drink to chat more. San Francisco, Cape Town and Leiden only needing one beautiful thing to connect: our travels.

William enjoying the view on 365 Ubuntu Climbs Hike 185

Non-Profits versus For Profit companies

Jessie, who’s also involved in empowering others around the world by building schools with an organisation called Pencils of Promise, and I head to my dear friends 40th. I pick empty seats next to gents that own a gift store in Cape Quarter called Baraka. Incredibly, this happens to be the store where Jessie bought me gifts last year before she left.

Conversation was great all night and later that evening, one’s whole demeanour changes at the mention of my project and raising money, due to one question: ‘how do I know where the money’s going?’

Excellent question!

Simple answer: always ask – reputable non-profits won’t have any issue sharing all their info.

It’s something I’m trying to instill with people this year; to do their homework. Habitat for Humanity, The Sunflower Fund and One heart are all registered Non-Profits as well as certified with SARS (South African Revenue Service) to provide donors with Section 18A’s – a document that allows you to claim your donation back from the tax you owe.

What’s more interesting though, is where the discussion went after we answered his question. He wasn’t satisfied that not 100% of funds raised always goes to said causes. This baffles me. If 80% of funds raised goes to the cause and 20% to administration costs which allows the organisation to help people, isn’t that great? (Disclaimer here – check with each individual organisation what their percentages are – some guarantee 100% of donations go to their cause)

Why is it we so quick to judge where and what the money’s being used for with non-profits; and yet have no problem with business practices of For Profit companies?

There’ve been some serious abuses of money management in Non-profits, but there’s been just as many cases of fraud and unethical business practices in for profits.

Whether you donate money or buy from a company – is it not fair to say we know both have running costs?

Jessie put it beautifully when she said, ‘we vote with every dollar we spend’.

My wish is we’d hold more companies accountable for their business practices. We forget we have the power. If a company still tests on animals – everyone choosing not to buy their products because of that means they’re out of business.

When faced with deciding whom to donate to, here are some tools to help you separate the cheaters from the world beaters:

  1. Ask for Financials. Reputable companies will have these available for you.
  2. They are vague. Perhaps their websites don’t give too much information about what they do, how they do it, when they started, who the Directors are etc – but that could mean they inexperienced and simply use it as a funnel supplying emails and contact details instead. However, if making contact via these channels is difficult and vague, trust your gut as it will certainly alert you.
  3. Any organisation should be able to supply you with references for what they do. If a charity builds homes; ask for details of where and who received it. Again, if people get uppity with you on the phone to supply this and your gut sounds alarm bells – You have the right to say no. It shouldn’t be difficult to get info like this.

 

I said it twice already but its worth telling you again. Trust your gut.

The reality is we live in a society where scams are something to watch for, but just because one woman cheats on you doesn’t mean the rest will.  If you hear about a non-profit being ‘dodgy’ don’t paint all of them that way.

Be vigilant.

Ask questions.

Vote for a better world with how you spend your money.

See you on the mountain.

If you’d like to invest in 365 Ubuntu’s Project, please click on http://www.365climbs.com and you’ll be kept up to date with who we empower. Stay tuned for our delivery of books to help teach children to read coming up this month at two schools.

Renaissance Guy Andrew Patterson

Hiking and Life’s Connection

Highs and Lows of Life and hiking
Even reaching the top of a hike doesn’t guarantee a view

Week 25 – The parallels of life and hiking

First up – special thanks to Wings Herbal Synergy for sponsoring me with supplements to keep my legs and body in the best health possible. Amazing because they didn’t want a big announcement about it, they are doing it simply because they believe in what I’m doing and want to help. Huge respect to them for that.

Whether hiking or living; you’ll experience highs and lows. The only difference between the two: hiking generally starts at the bottom for you to climb up.

Some days though, you can start extremely high. Recently though, my day started as close to the bottom as you can get with the news of my dear friend Joshua’s death.

Week begins with high and low

Monday the 18th is my grans 94th birthday and Joshua’s funeral in Melbourne. It’s one of those crazy days where you feel two opposite emotions simultaneously.

My gran and family still live in Johannesburg and this is now the longest I’ve gone without seeing her. She’s unable to travel so I’ll only see her again when I’m finished with climbing Table Mountain 365 times this year. I miss her.

Speaking to her before my hike, I can hear the sparkle in her voice as she sat comfortably in her new chair that had arrived earlier. A comfy lazy boy with massage function. Its great to hear her voice and it always leaves me incredibly grateful that at age 38, I have the privilege to speak to her still. Especially on a hard day like this.

Memorial hike

I promised Joshua’s mom and brother I’d hike at the same time his funeral and wake took place so in some small way, I could be ‘present’ from across the oceans. Fittingly, the weather is glum and overcast, almost as if the weather was mourning with us. I took a candle with me to light and sit with his rock. I picked up one on the day of his death to honour him. High winds meant the cable car wasn’t working and I hiked back down.

I chose to sit quietly on Ubuntu rock with the candle fluttering next to ‘Josh’. Amazingly – Ubuntu rock had not a breath of wind for the candle to burn uninterrupted. There we sat. As if inside a cloud, on one of the most recognised mountains in the world. Honouring a beautiful soul that now lives inside all of us that knew him.

He had endured such tragedy this year and I will forever be grateful for his incredible support for my project. I take solace knowing that he found some peace.

With the last quarter of the hike left, the biggest rain drops I can remember since running around in our garden as a child, descended on me. I tried to capture it in a photo to no avail. Felt like the last perfect send off to Josh. Lifting my face up, I felt rain against my face for the first time. Usually the peak of my cap and hood of my jacket serve to shield my face. It was the type of experience I would have jumped on to Whatsapp to tell him about because I knew he’d appreciate that.

Fittingly, the 365 Ubuntu Climbs shirt he wore with such pride went with him.

We all miss you my friend.

My friend Joshua crook supporting 365 Ubuntu Climbs

A break in the weather

In 34 days I’ve only had a view from the top 13 times. In the past 11 days, once. One of the greatest lessons to date is understanding that there’s no bad weather; just bad preparation. Thanks to Cape Union Mart and their brand K-Way – I’m prepared, and I’m kept warm and dry which translates into safe.

The rain pants in particular, are amazing. The day Josh passed I made the mistake of not wearing them and a serious downpour happened in the first twenty minutes. Now they’re on even  if there’s a remote chance of rain.

Rain is glorious news and I get excited every time for it. We’re in the grips of one of the worst droughts Cape Towns had in a century. Our dams collectively, have just squeaked past the 40% full mark. This is why I said at the beginning of the year I hope to hike in rain for 200 days.

You’re probably thinking “Whaaaaaaaaat?!?! Hiking in the rain is dangerous surely??” I think the mountain is more dangerous on clear warm days than on windy rainy days; because people think it’s a playground and don’t pay enough attention and respect to the mountain. Many rocks are slippery even without being rained on. Being in nature requires presence, in every moment and step. I believe injuries come from two things: fatigue and lack of respect.

Even today as I start my 176th hike this year, I pretend it’s my very first one. Every step is closely monitored, and I even check to see what rocks have changed position, look loose and are cracking open/off.

It’s a gift being on the mountain around the time of these storms passing through. To see the mountainside alive and water flowing in the most unexpected places is phenomenal. Summer hikers would walk past without ever thinking twice about a waterfall. What a privilege to get to experience it in every way.

My latest understanding

I was given an opportunity to speak to the South African Property Investors Network (SAPIN) again on day 171 having spoke on day 73. This gave me a unique opportunity to gauge who’d heard me speak then and whether they thought I’d be back having not missed a day on my quest to complete 365.

I admire their honesty, pretty much all of them said no.

I always knew most people would think that way and the only way to build trust is to keep doing what I’m doing. People watch your actions more closely than your words – and rightly so.

I’ve come across many talkers proclaiming to support, and they disappear into the distance like a tumbleweed blown across the desert floor.

These talks give me a great opportunity to share the purpose of climbing a mountain daily: to show the power we have as individuals and collectively when we stand together.

Why donate money at all? Well – having been involved in various projects since my high school days with King Edwards and their KESFAM drives, I can tell you there’s nothing like seeing the gratitude in the eyes of those you empower.

Just because we’re not responsible for others suffering, doesn’t mean we can’t be part of the solution to help them.

I don’t believe in charity – that involves keeping people out of their own power. Working with Habitat for Humanity; One Heart and The Sunflower Fund means we collectively empower those we help to take ownership of their lives.

Empowering those without the means to empower themselves now.

Speaking on Wednesday I realised that most people look at themselves as a Mt Everest of donating. In other words, it must be large sums of money to be meaningful. What they don’t realise is that even Mt Everest isn’t just one mountain: its made up of thousands of individual stairs from base to summit; each stair as important as the next.

Think of yourself as a stair to someone else’s Everest.

If every South African gave me R1 – we’d raise R56 million.

If 50 000 Capetonians donated R30 a month (not even 2 coffees) we’d raise R1.5 million a month

Ask the 2.5 million people in the UK that didn’t bother voting on the Brexit issue if they still feel their vote wasn’t important.

Our power lies in our collective efforts. Don’t ever say “I can only give….” Because your act of giving has the potential to change another human beings’ life.

Just ask each of 365 Ubuntu Climbs donors whether they thought they’d:

  • Add 20 people to the donor registry and potentially save 20 fathers, 20 mothers, 20 friends lives impacting all their families, friends and colleagues;
  • Help two of the largest primary schools in the country teach thousands of children to read and track the children’s progress
  • Help 10 families improve their living conditions to feel safer, warmer and drier.

And we not even half way yet.

Final thought for the week

My 300th climber to join me was Iona this past Saturday and her takeaway was Ubuntu rock and the accumulation of love that makes the walk into a prayer of love, hope and connection.

It was the first time I’ve asked for feedback like that and what an incredible answer to get first up.

Why? Because its what this is all about summed up perfectly. Life’s shorter than you imagine, don’t waste it living in fear. I promise you – I’ve never been more inspired by how much good there is in this world with all the people I’ve met thus far and through all the donations received.

I’m grateful to each and every one of you. Creating a better world requires active citizenry. As Gandi said – be the change you wish to see in the world.

Try it – I’ve never been more fulfilled in my life.

See you on the mountain

Andrew Patterson is hiking Table Mountain every day in 2018 (175/365 completed thus far) to build homes; teach children to read and build a database for Leukaemia. To become part of the Ubuntu Family (ubuntu is the spirit of humanity and compassion towards one another) head over to http://www.365climbs.com share your contribution.