Two American hikers decided they would summit Mount Kilimanjaro. The hikers spent over two years planning the trip. I can relate…my parents and I spent over a year prepping to hike rim to rim of the Grand Canyon (and since my parents have been back a bunch of times, my dad doing it in a single day, YES, he’s a bad ass!!)
Anyway, back to the Kilaminjaro hikers. Part of their planning included mapping out their route and after researching ad nauseam, realized the smart thing to do would be to hire local porters to help them carry their equipment. Four men signed up for the job. The American hikers created an itinerary with a pace they felt would get them to their goal.
Meticulously planned to the hour, the two men, climbed aboard the 4:04pm flight out of Atlanta to start their trek. Several days later, the two hikers stood at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro waiting for their porters to arrive. They were easy to spot, they fit in with the surroundings, they didn’t have fancy gear, no REI products in sight. The porters walked straight up to the hikers, introduced themselves, shook hands, and said “we go.”
“But wait” the spreadsheet making hiker declared, “we have an itinerary that maps out our desired progress based on the altitude, route, and our capacity for endurance.” He passed out 4 copies of the spreadsheet and all of the men stared at it blankly, folded it, and tucked it into their pockets. With a wave of the porter’s hand, the six men set off.
A few hours in, already, the Americans felt the pace wasn’t fast enough so began pushing to go faster. The porters complied. Picking up the pace, they started making really good time. The Americans had a goal in mind for when they wanted to reach the top, there were three levels — a contentment goal, a dream goal and then a “this would be a miracle if we pull it off” goal.
With their steady pace, on their first day, they surpassed the dream goal and the “miracle” goal was in sight. Aching backs, black and blue toes from their boots, none of the challenges mattered, they had a goal, a “let’s beat this record other people had set” goal, they wanted to pull off.
In the morning, the hikers woke up sluggish and struggled to get moving. Their physical bodies were sending out warning signs. Slow down, take it easy, maybe we should rest. Rest? NO WAY! Neither one of the hikers were going to let a silly thing like physical pain slow them down. They brewed some coffee, popped some strong ibuprofen, and went to pass off their packed gear to the porters. Making their way to where the porters had set up camp, the hikers saw none of the porters were ready for the hike.
“Is everything okay? We are ready to go. The schedule has us leaving at 6am this morning,” the spreadsheet making hiker spoke to the porters.
“We are not going any further today.”
“Oh no! Is someone hurt? What’s wrong?” the other hiker responded.
“No one is hurt. We are physically well, but we traveled at too swift a pace yesterday and must wait here for our souls to catch up.”
So I made up most of that story (at least about the hikers, me and my parents REALLY did hike 22 miles rim to rim across the Grand Canyon!). It’s apparently some kind of African folklore but I couldn’t find an original source and that always irks me to repeat something possibly inaccurate, so I put my own spin on it. I’m guessing you get the point. I’ve been taught:
I can do anything I want!
Pain is weakness leaving the body!
Don’t let anything stop me!
Turn the pain into power!
All this is good advice, and it’s how I’ve been able to achieve a lot of success in my life with multiple college degrees, corporate career success, becoming a published author, or dating a guy completely long distance. Or then there’s the other stuff I’ve survived like migraine, seasons of acute grief, and postpartum depression.
There are times in my life I have to get into crisis mode, buckle down, accomplish the goal, stay in survival mode.
AND I’ve learned I cannot run at that exhaustive pace forever. My body, mind and spirit were never designed to function on adrenaline alone. I have to pause, I MUST pause, to let my soul catch up. When I say “soul”, I can also mean “spirit” or “heart”. No matter what name I call it, the idea is challengingly simple.
“Stop. Just stop, Virginia. Stop moving, stop striving, stop performing, stop hustling, stop DO-ing. Just stop. Be. Take a breath. Notice the trees and the blue sky and the development in your kids that’s flying by. Feel the feelings — the good, the bad, the ugly. Pause to reengage with relationships that matter, with friends, with family, with Lukas. Stop. Just stop. Let your soul catch up.”
It was through the great wisdom of our realtor who encouraged us to get an AirBNB for a month, instead of a week or so through this transition. That’s come in handy as we’ve had changes to close dates and other moving parts and it’s come into handy as a safe place for our souls to catch up.
The past six weeks has been full of packing and loading and moving and sorting and cleaning and unloading and planning and executing the plan and celebrating my thirty fourth birthday while running a yard sale. Last night, Lukas sent me a final video of our empty house. IT IS FINISHED. In four days we sign closing paperwork and hand over the keys to our first home. And now, we sit in our safe place, letting our souls catch up.