I’m not sure if you know this about me or not, but I love a goal. I used to float along aimlessly, go wherever the wind took me, and be all “ehhhhh plans are for the olds.” But then I became old and realized that without plans and goals I would be a hot mess. I like to aim for something, even things WAY off in the distance. I feel that it keeps me centered and balanced, always in preparation and excited for challenges. My goals for this year include (but are not limited to) completing two half marathons, quitting my current job, and getting a teaching job for the fall. As of today, all goals are in action. I’m training for my first half marathon but am sad to learn that I probably have plantar fasciitis, though I remain undeterred. I bought some shoe inserts that will hopefully help and momma didn’t raise a quitter, so while I may be the last person to cross the finish line in June, I WILL CROSS THAT FINISH LINE. Walking a half marathon is still doing a half marathon, amiright?
The goals for next year are already in place (read: planner!) because my homie Holly and I are planning a summer Europe trip! I’m beginning to learn that one of the perks to working the job you are meant to work can also mean summers off. We’re thinking of a month-long European hop from country to country to see the sights and backpack and meet people and eat tons of food. How exciting! I even would like to spend a week at Farm Sanctuary in New York or California after my European jaunt. I figure that until I meet someone or have children, I should travel while I can! Which leads me to my most recent goal (that is the most far off).
In the summer of 2017 (PLANNER) I am planning on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Pause for reaction. You may have some very logical questions that just popped into your head as you read that, so allow me to explain:
Kilimanjaro is the tallest peak in Africa. It is in Tanzania, which is in eastern Africa. It is the highest free-standing mountain in the world. It is part of the “Seven Summits”, which is are the seven highest mountains in each of the seven continents. I have been in the presence of Mount McKinley (that’s the tallest mountain in North America, kids!), which is the third tallest mountain in the world. Mount Kilimanjaro is the fourth tallest mountain.
I mean, will you die?
Good question! No, I won’t. I mean, yes, one day we all will die. But no, I will not die during my climb. This is not Everest, people. I won’t need oxygen to get to the top and my body will not freeze and my fingers will not turn black. To put it another way, Everest’s elevation is a whopping 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) while Kilimanjaro is 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). Will climbing Kilimanjaro be difficult? Of course. I will start training for it 6 months before I go. There will absolutely be an acclimatization factor because of the elevation. I have chosen the Marangu route which is, some would say, the easiest. It will take 6 days to summit which includes one day to acclimatize.
Why? Like, for real though…why?
The real (vegan) meat of the matter! Why do this? Why do anything? Why climb mountains or visit Europe or do half marathons or have goals at all? The short answer is because Kilimanjaro is there. Period. The longer answer is because it’s been on my mind for a while. It started after I read Allison Wright’s “Learning to Breathe: One Woman’s Journey of Spirit and Survival.” An amazing book filled with inspiration and strength, Allison suffers a horrible accident and almost dies. When she fully recovers, she climbs Kilimanjaro to prove to herself and the world that nothing can break her. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. That book has stayed in the back of my mind for years, and Kilimanjaro has stayed with it. This past week, I was browsing the Huffington Post online and saw this article by Kara Richardson Whitely entitled “At 300 Pounds, I Decided to Conquer Kilimanjaro.” It all came rushing back. This desire, this want, this need to climb a mountain; this dream of Kilimanjaro. Kara’s post really resonated with me, as I’ve have weight and body image struggles and the garden variety self esteem issues in my life. It’s a tale as old as time. I immediately ordered Kara’s book and proceeded to begin researching how exactly one does this. It wasn’t long before I decided on the route, found three reputable companies that would help me to the top, and was watching videos of people climbing and summiting. If you believe in signs, here’s a big one: the day all of this happened (last Wednesday), Toto’s song “Africa” came on at the restaurant I was eating at with friends. Yes, the song mentions Kilimanjaro.
What does it all mean?
I have no clue. The only thing I do know is that I can do this and that this will not break me. It will only make me strong at the broken places. Now you have to ask yourself: what is your Mount Kilimanjaro, and will you climb it?