I had been meaning to learn how to backpack and hike solo for a long time. And when I walked into a hiking/camping gear shop one day I was met with a wonderfully joyous and confident face, a lovely young woman, who was offering exactly what I had been searching for... a guided 2-day hike in a women-only group, with lessons on how to pack your gear, how to set up a tent, how to store food in the wilderness, how to prepare meals, and much more... and how to do it all in an ecologically friendly way. A dream come true. I went home with the brochure, and pondered over this opportunity for a few weeks. Ultimately me and a friend signed up.
The night before the hike was the orientation night, which was fun of course: getting to meet my travel mates, and learning how to pack our bags properly. After the initial night of packing our bags, l was apprehensive but excited. It had started to rain and I wondered how everything would turn out.
Next morning it was still raining hard. In my solitude and the safety of my hotel room, I stared out the window at the puddles of water forming on the asphalt parking lot floor. I hadn't slept too well, which wasn't unusual. I was going through a separation and an imminent divorce. The wounds weren't just fresh... I was still right in the middle of my battle... New wounds forming every moment.
After a quick breakfast, my friend and I headed over to our group meeting point. It wasn't raining quite as hard anymore. I wished for clear skies. My wish would come true over the course of the day.
After another brief orientation and chat, we started hiking. The first thirty minutes of the hike were fine. But I started to question my stamina. I questioned my strength. I questioned my decision to do this hike. And this was all on easy terrain. Then came our first tiny climb. After about 15 steps I gave up. I told Jenna that I was ready to go home.
Jenna gently assured me that I could do it, and that she'd be there behind me to support me all the way to our destination. I believed the second part... But not the first. She would have to reassure me several more times over the course of the two days.
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but what I received was patience, encouragement and kindness from Jenna and my hiking friends. I couldn't understand it.
But in this beautiful natural surroundings, with the breathtaking mountains around me, the crisp fresh air, the sound of the carefree birds, and accompanied by a group of wonderful women, everyone with their own challenges and battles, somehow I felt calmer. When I accepted my vulnerability, I no longer felt alone.
I have realized this over the years.... When you are truly left alone, you aren't able to see yourself... I've mistakenly thought I'm impermeable in those times. But when you open yourself up to the unexpected, whatever it may be for you... kindness, beauty... the moment you think there is support behind you, that you may be accepted and appreciated just for who you are, that it's okay to be where you are in your life (despite your resistance to it), that's when the real test begins - facing your own unraveling. And, truly, showing up is half the battle.
So show up... to your fears, to your bucket lists, to your vulnerabilities, to the rewards, to peace, to the still joy within you, to the kindness inside that you need to show to yourself at last, to the core of who you are. Rumi said, "The wound is where the light enters." Be willing to be healed.