It is okay to come back again

During my trip to Nepal last December to trek the Himalayas, I had a physically exhausting time trekking the mountains. Though it was tiring where I had to trek for 5 to 8 hours a day up steep inclines, it was mentally rejuvenating and on a whole, the experience was something I treasured.

I have always been fascinated with the mountains, and been so close to Everest was surreal. Having read books of heroic and inspirational figures in the past who have reached the summit of Everest, I was inspired to do that one day.

Climbing a mountain and reaching the summit is as clear an analogy of life as any. In NUS, I sat in one of a sessions organized by the University to listen to the Singapore team’s tale of conquest of different mountains and that day as I listened to them, they shared how they had to turn back from the summit of K2. That was an expedition that lost a few lives in the team.

As I was trekking with my guide, he shared with me how there were Korean mountaineers a few years ago who have set off on an expedition up Machapuchare, also known as Fish tail and have not been seen again. their loss was the final straw as the Nepali government banned expedition up the mountain after a few other teams before them has failed to return. Staring into the distance at the ice capped mountain when I was on the Annurpurna trail to Annurpurna Base Camp, I wondered what went through the minds of the mountaineers as they fought their last breath. As avalanches were quite prominent in the Himalayas, especially at high altitude, they could have perished from such forces of nature.

The interesting thing about climbing is that climbers are taught and conditioned to say ‘no’ and turn back. Sitting in the room that day and listening to the Singapore men’s team, one of them menetioned that they decided to turn away from K2 because they could always come back to climb a second time. Looking at the weather conditions, they could have died if they had continued with the climb.

Being in a condition as raw as 7000m above sea level, where frost bite is common and altitude mountain sickness hits even the fittest of them, things are put back into perspective and we realize what matters in life in those instance.

Society has taught us to pursue after success relentlessly but are these pursuits at the expense of other things? Despite the importance of success in life, there are other values and mindsets that are crucial to the overall development of a healthy, emotionally sound and holistic person as well.

A couple of my friends went trekking after I came back from Nepal and they had to turn back this time around due to a blizzard. The trial was slippery and someone ahead of them actually slip and fell and had to be evacuated by helicopter. The same guide that I had told my friends that the wise thing to do was to turn back and continue the next time.

In life, there are times when you might be hindered from your success, when you are met with oppositions that will stop you from getting to where you want to go. It is okay to turn back. It is okay to be delayed. But remember, come back again to do it a second time. And that is not failure.

-Shane, EdValue

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