Today is a day to celebrate our independence. We have the freedom to think, express ourselves and to act according to our desires. It’s also a day to recognize how we achieved this freedom. Thanks to the men and women who fought for our independence and to those who continue to serve our great nation.
Back to the freedom within ourselves. This is an amazing gift. However, it is hard sometimes for me to open this present and thus be open to the present. I don’t feel empowered all the time to be free to express myself without the thought of what others will think. Even as I write this post, I am wondering, “will it be accepted and recognized as worthy of publication?” And, “If it is accepted, how many likes or shares will it receive?” Self-doubt can be debilitating.
I had an experience a couple of years ago in the Himalayas. I spent 22 days on Mount Everest. My purpose was not to reach the summit but to learn more about the Sherpa culture. I am sharing much of what I experienced and continue to learn at http://SherpaPath.com. I’ve also posted a 17-minute film with interviews of some of the 50 Sherpas and climbers who I met, http://thesherpapath.com/film. So what does this have to do with independence? About halfway through the expedition, on April 4, 2012, we were camping at Gorak Shep. It was below zero and at an altitude above 16,000 feet, it was hard to breath and thus nearly impossible to sleep soundly. We woke up at 4am to trek to a peak called Kala Pattar, which is at 18,192 feet. We used headlamps and wore our warmest clothing. Ninety minutes into the ascent, I was struggling. This was not like struggling at the gym where you can get off the treadmill and take a rest. Each step felt like a monumental task. The others in my group were moving ahead more quickly and given all the switch-backs I could no longer see them. My friend and guide Phurwa Sherpa stayed within range. I was at the end.
At that moment of despair and desperation, the ego stepped aside and reality set in. The opinions of others back home that might like a Facebook post didn’t matter anymore. They were not there to help and their judgment was useless. The Sherpa guides were helpful by providing comfort and experience. However, I needed to tap into something inside of me to get to the top of that peak. I was completely present. Step by step, literally. Something opened up inside of me. I was able to push self-doubt aside and find a voice inside of myself that was motivating, empowering and, like the Sherpas, comforting. I talked myself through the experience and found something that will last a lifetime, “The Sherpa Within.”
I have learned a lot from the Sherpas and other “guides” who I believe have a Sherpa-like characteristic. Interviews with those people can be found at http://thesherpapath.com/interviews. It’s ironic that I went to Nepal to learn more about the Sherpas, but ultimately learned more about myself. I want to share what I found so others can find it too. And you don’t need to go half way around the world to tap into it. You may find it through meditation or some other means. We all have that voice inside. I’m reminded on this independence day to break free and celebrate by opening up to the present day.