Welcome to another edition of Writerly Wednesday.
Last week, TB shared Be Like Mickey Mouse, where she said her motto is: just keep going.
This week she wants to share the backstory to learning that motto the hard way.
One Step at a Time
In 2013, I visited Malaysia, and one of the must-dos, according to our Malay friend we were staying with, was to climb Mount Kinabalu. I’ve been an avid hiker most of my life and lived in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains for over fifteen years. It wasn’t unusual for me to go hiking at five in the morning before heading to work. And, weekends were dedicated to being outdoors.
Although, going for a three-hour hike and climbing to the top of a 13,000-foot mountain in under forty-eight hours are not in the same category. That didn’t deter me from signing up for the challenge.
I should note that I half-heartedly trained for this challenge, since at the time, I lived in London and there weren’t a lot of mountains to tackle. I did join a gym and spent many hours on a mountain-climbing machine.
As it turned out, I didn’t spend enough hours on that dang machine, because Mount Kinabalu nearly killed me.
The climb took place over two days. The first day involved making it to base camp, where we stayed the night, and then waking at 1:00 a.m. to trek the final few thousand feet to the summit before sunrise.
Halfway to base camp on the first day, I knew I was in serious trouble. My legs hurt, my body was exhausted, and all I wanted to do was cry. I could have quit. One woman who twisted an ankle had to be carried down the mountain.
The thing is, I can be stubborn as hell, even when it’s dangerous. So, I kept going.
The following morning, in the cold and dark, I got up with the rest and started the climb to the summit. Given the darkness, my steps were tiny. My headlamp wasn’t very strong, but I couldn’t have taken larger steps even if I wanted to. Even so, I wanted to get to the top in time for the sunrise, so I kept my head down to illuminate my next teensy-tiny steps.
For the duration of this climb, we had a lovely guide who was assigned to me and my partner. He knew I was struggling while my partner wasn’t showing any signs of distress or exhaustion. The morning of the final ascent, he walked by my side, offering me encouragement. One of the lines he kept repeating was, “Take it one step at a time.”
I can’t remember how many times he said it, but his words helped me to keep going.
Not only that, I made it in time for the sunrise.
To this day, whenever the going gets hard, in writing, life, or whatever, I hear my guide’s voice in my head saying, “Take it one step at a time.” It was a tough way to learn the lesson, but it’s not one I will ever forget.
For example, I recently struggled getting a manuscript to my editor on time. While I loved writing the story, everything else in life was building up, draining every creative thought from my brain. I ended up moving the deadline and focusing on one word at a time, just like I did when climbing Mount Kinabalu one tiny step at a time. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish taking things slowly, but with consistency and determination.
So, here’s to going through life, one step at a time, and letting nothing stop you.