I never realized how much we worry, how we live with inner pools of anxiety over everything – “when will the internet come back online” – “Is it going to rain tomorrow” – “My promotion at the company isn’t going to go through” – “Will they get me that proposal on time” – “Will they call me tonight”. I could list thousands of little things that nag on us, all the time. It is not that these little worries and anxieties exist, but rather how these little annoyances weigh on and destroy our freedom of living in our creation. Surprisingly I have found that discipline, courage and the inner strength of will – these are the things that actually give us freedom. I was amazed at how six days on the mountain subjected my body to such pain and brought it to a level of unimportance, therefore freeing my mind to limits I never knew existed. To live without a sense of time, shower, communication, social activity or anything for that matter – this exercise was simply amazing. It was an experience of freedom which I have never felt. The sense of past and future were infused together to mold a perfect encounter with the now. Something I am sure doesn’t exist, except here on the mountain, especially in Africa.

I have learned that we should climb mountains with as little effort as possible and strangely enough, without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed you move. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. It is important to climb in equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, once you have learned to no longer think and plan ahead, each footstep is no longer just a means to an end, but a unique motion in itself. “That flower glistens with water” – “That marsh is green without water” – “These rocks are thinner than below” – “Look at how the sun bursts through the overhanging forest.” But these are things we should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal, that is shallow. Rather, it is the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. It is there that things grow. We are not meant to live at the top, trust me, we simply can’t do it. Unfortunately the overpowering desire to be on the top will kill the freedom of experiencing the real mountain experience, which is the journey to the top.

While on the mountain, I noticed how some climbers only lived for that shallow, distant goal of reaching the top. Their talk was egocentric and their experience meaningless, regardless of the outcome. A 20 minute jubilee and a Cannon perfect image to capture the “Accomplished moment”, this was no reward at all. To get home and tell everyone, “I climbed Kili and survived” – what does that mean to anyone? No one will understand what we just went through, but they will understand the real mountain experience, which is the journey, not the task or goal.

At first I thought physical strength would be enough to get to the top, but it wasn’t. I thought intellectual planning and motivation would be enough, but that too wasn’t. Originally I saw myself as the fixed entity, using the mountain for my own purposes. But that view and its egotistical sense of accomplishment rings hollow with reality. I now understand climbing a mountain is not about getting to the top, but living with the mountain. I believe that every footstep should be an act of devotion and submission to something that radiates the holiness of God. HIS grandeur and power are so clearly evident in the enormity of this mountain and must not be overlooked. When the holiness of God, through this mountain gets branded into your insides, you can endure far more than your physical or intellectual strength could ever take. At first, before I learned what this journey was really about, I used to do all the things that showed my shallow sense of wanting to conquer Kilimanjaro. I would always look up the trail trying to see what was ahead and how far the next point was, when I had just looked a second before. When I talked, it would always be about something else, somewhere else. I was on Kilimanjaro, but not on Kilimanjaro. I was anxious about getting to the next camp and would constantly be questioning about the future days to come. I was worried about problems and situations back at home. The very thing I came here for was all around me, everywhere, but I didn’t know that; I thought it was still days ahead. Every step was an effort for me, both physically and spiritually, because my goal was external and distant. Once I realized this, Kilimanjaro became a journey and I became a pilgrim on a journey of exposure. It would expose myself to me and in that allow me to experience not physical heights, but rather spiritual boundaries of freedom – which in the end, compiled the breathtaking moments.