The start of a New Year. It’s exciting and brings about a bit of anxiety. Both of those feelings come from the same source – the fact that there is a lot of unknown in what lies ahead this year. That’s part of what makes life magical. It is also what makes a goal oriented adventure special. The goal may be clear and the initial path to reach it may be planned, but inevitably, new circumstances will transpire. People along the way will act in unpredictable ways. You may detour based on a new set of information. As the Sherpas taught me, even though it is a cliche we have all heard many times, it is about enjoying the journey. They seemed to be smiling through each step on the Everest Base Camp expedition we took together.
The first expedition I went on to Nepal in 1998 was on the Annapurna foothills. We walked for hours at a time through beautiful mountain paths and came across villages. The villages were made up of huts made with mud, sticks and dried yak dung. The floors were dirt and perhaps a mat to sleep upon. The people were living in deep poverty, trying to live off the land. The kids simply asked for a pen so they could learn to write in the one room schoolhouse. I sat with two kids and took them through my journal. They were amazed at all of the words and the ticket stubs and other mementos I collected. Even though they had next to nothing and had much more to be concerned about then we Westerners, all of the people seemed happy. I then realized that they didn’t have more to worry about then me. They had a few big, focused things to worry about that we took for granted (getting food for dinner, seeing a doctor when sick, having a pen to write with at school). Most of my worries were smaller in comparison.
I learned a slightly different but related lesson many years ago from a guy named Jon Gartman. He was a truck driver turned teacher who we hired to manage a marketing program for AT&T targeting truckers. I was 25 at the time and we were driving across Oklahoma together in his truck. While he was driving, I was looking through my project plan and making notes. I was nervous about the program being successful since it was my idea and responsibility. Jon looked over at me and said, “your cork is screwed on a little too tight for a young fella.” He then explained that in life “there are no failures…you may have set backs or you may have to make alternative plans, but as long as you are alive you can keep going and find another way forward.” I picked my head up and enjoyed the drive.
So, onto 2015 and the new year ahead. I don’t know who I will meet and what new things will come my way. And neither do you. But, that is OK and even exciting. Enjoy the TheSherpaPath.