I had been meaning to learn how to backpack and hike solo for a long time. 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, women-only hike with lessons on how to pack your gear, set up a tent, store food in the wilderness, prepare meals, and much more. On top of it all, we'd learn how to do in an ecologically friendly way. A dream come true. I went home with the brochure and pondered the opportunity for a few weeks. Ultimately myself and a friend signed up.
The night before the hike was the orientation night which was a lot of fun, of course. This is the part where I got to meet my travel mates, and we learned 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 the solitude and safety of my hotel room, I gazed out the window at the puddles of water forming on the asphalt parking lot. I hadn't slept 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; 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 her during 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.
In these beautiful natural surroundings, with the breathtaking mountains around me, the crisp fresh air, the sound of the carefree birds, and the company of 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. 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 joy that's still 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.