The Everest Base Camp trek was a dream of 10 years, and the journey of a lifetime for me. There were many reasons I have dreamt of it for so long.. but the ultimate reason that has grown exponentially over the last several years was that I wanted to really challenge myself mentally and physically and go as far out of my comfort zone as possible - all the way to my “wildest dream.”
I have been in therapy regularly for years now - not only to deal with Depression, Complicated Grief, and PTSD.. but because I’ve become more and more aware of how much I seek to have total control of my life - in order to experience as little pain as possible.
Pain is so relative, and exists in so many different levels of our experience on this earth. Some pain creates beauty and strength, and some creates sadness, and even depression.
As a child, I lived through years of emotional abuse caused by my mother - and it was so painful that it has greatly shaped who I am as a person.
As a young adult, I was a dancer and learned that we could endure pain to create beauty in our lives. I spent years dancing en pointe and learned to ignore the pain that my body felt in order to blossom as a dancer. The beauty that I created when dancing across a stage made the pain relative. It was always worth it.
As an adult, I spent nearly a decade of my life in a relationship with someone who struggled with severe and poorly managed Bi-Polar, and Addiction. What began with love, support and deep understanding between two people, eventually grew into a very unhealthy relationship filled with emotional, and even physical, abuse.
It has been nearly 7 years since his death. And as much pain as our relationship often held - his death was the only time in my life that I truly wondered if pain alone could kill me. I can still envision myself, pulled over in a parking lot after finding out he had died, screaming and sobbing with agony and disbelief. And I can clearly remember the moment where I wondered if that kind of suffering could kill me.
Surprise - it didn’t. But just like the other experiences of pain in my life - it shaped me. Enduring pain doesn’t always create beauty or strength in our lives. But it does mold us into somehow different people.. and to those of us that have lives that often feel defined by pain - we must find beauty in change, and thus, in our pain.
I don’t always love that old saying “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” (even though you know I sing along with that song sometimes,) because pain can certainly shape our lives, even making it more beautiful.. but there is also a pain that exists that doesn’t make us stronger, but sadder. And for more people than you know, that pain has helped them to bloom, sure, but it has also planted deep roots and blossomed into something that we call Depression.
We don’t bloom under the pain of Depression. It grows so big that we whither under its shadow and begin to turn away from life and the possibility of more pain. Depression creates darkness in our lives, and even worse than the darkness.. it squanders any hope that light even exists.
After living through a few years of intense grief, during which I lost my Dad, Sam, and eventually both of my Grandparents - I began a blog called “Out of the Darkness.” I began writing my way through the darkness, digging my way into the light and trying to grow toward happiness in my life.
My biggest goal with this trek was to watch the sunset on Everest from Kala Patthar. Some people refer to this as “Everest on Fire.” As we reached Kala Patthar, the sky was full of clouds, but I waited with baited breath and envisioned the way the clouds would eventually part. And they did.
And as I watched the sun shine it’s final light of the day upon the mountain that had consumed my dreams for 10 years - my eyes were filled with tears and my heart felt fuller than I ever knew it could.
I don’t know that I’ve ever soaked in a moment as much as I did that one. But as the darkness enveloped the light, we turned our headlamps on and began our hike back down the ridge.
As I set my headlamp to the brightest setting, I paid close attention to the way the mountains changed in the darkness. And I paid close attention to the way that the darkness had changed my own life - to the pain that had created that darkness, and to the woman who had found a way to grow toward the light.
No, the pain was not always beautiful, but I don’t think the beauty of that moment would have been the same had it not been for the pain.
And so we press on forward — out of the darkness, and into the light. Because life is worth it.
Because we are worth it.
Photo by Karl Nesseler - Anywhere+ Guide.
Everest Base Camp Trek by Anywhere+.