Tuesday, July 8, 2008

When the mountain talks to You

When the mountain talks to You.....

When the mountain talks to you

The ever changing progression of the mountain is like the ever changing progression of these diseases. Just when you think you are going to reach the summit, lightening strikes and sends you back down. Just when a breakthrough has been made in the understanding of a disease, lightening strikes and sends researchers back to the drawing board. A medication stops working. A medication won’t kick in. A beautiful mind is lost. A body is broken. We climb to reach the summit but we don’t always. But, we keep climbing, keep pushing to reach the next one. Base camp, high camp, the summit. Snow boots, crampons, ice axes, poles, goggles, backpacks, gloves, harness, rope team…..all needed to reach the top. Funding, awareness, advocates, caregivers, scientists, government approval, those who battle these diseases, foundations, Philanthropist’s, volunteers, street teams, walkers, climbers, bikers, hikers…..all needed to reach the top of this never ending search for the cures.
I reached an altitude of comfort on the mountain. A moment of clarity and a moment of reality. I trained hard in snow camp at base camp. I climbed up a straight incline of snow and ice with my rope team that consisted of Phil, our guide, Cy and Enzo. I conquered the side step, toes first, cross over step, duck walk. I walked without my crampons, with my crampons, without my ice axe, with my ice axe. I slid and fell several times. I stared up at the summit and prayed and thought about all of you. I carried letters and my well wishes blog that I printed out. I kept you all close. When I fell face first in the snow I picked my self back up. When I got snow and ice kicked in my face, down my coat, I just wiped it off, shook it out and kept moving. Five hours of training. My team supported me, cheered me on, sang to me “Come on Eileen”.
I may not have made it to the top this time. Not even to high camp, but I will never stop trying on some level to help others to do so. To keep giving them hope in a project that resonates change. A project that resonates progression. That speaks to millions and makes millions listen.
Disappointment in myself did not occur. It was a tough decision to make but the mountain talked and I listened. If others are disappointed in me and just don’t understand why, that is there prerogative. I stepped out of my comfort level, I trained hard, I developed a mind set to achieve this. Altitude sickness, vertigo, no sleep that night, and yes, fear made my mental state crash. It was best for the team that I didn’t continue. I stayed behind and sat in a car in front of the mountain for a full day and night and watched the progression of the mountain change. The summit disappearing in the clouds. The sunset reflecting the side of the mountain. The skiers making there way down. The water draining at the base of the mountain from melting snow. Searching for my team through my lens hoping I would see them. Praying for there safety. Finally falling asleep in the back seat of the car and waking up at 5 A.M. to the mountain gone. Thunder, lightening and rain all around me. Fear gripped my heart for my team. Were they still up there? The guides told us if it begins to lightening, we go down.
I went to the ski lodge. The doors were locked. I went to the hotel. The doors were locked. I drove to the upper parking lot and sat and waited. The weather made the mountain disappear. Until the storm passed it was like looking at just a parking lot at the base. And then they woke up. They were all around me. Parked on either side of me and I didn’t even realize it. They were evacuated at 1 A.M. Safe to the bottom but let me sleep. The dynamics of this team. Unquestionably the greatest. We united, happy to see one another. The summit still no where in site due to the storm. But we were all safe. Reunited, we moved past the moment and began the next phase.
Drawing awareness, telling our stories, sharing with the world. Believing in each other, why we do this, and helping each other through the disappointment of not summiting. Mapping out the next move, the next mountain, the next fundraiser, the next time we will all be together. Not a second, not a minute, hour, day, week, will ever be a waste to us. One hundred conversations, tears, laughter, togetherness for seven days. We are determined, driven and passionate.
Let there be no mistake; I chose not to go ahead with my team. They wanted me to try. They were all willing to help me get there. The guides would accommodate me. But my intuition overruled. The mountain stared down at me and told me no. I didn’t want anyone to put themselves out for me. They needed to climb with there own safety in mind. First and foremost, not to summit but to reach the bottom safely. I would have compromised this. It was not about reaching the top, it was about and still is, drawing awareness, raising funds.
We all have our mountains to conquer. Our fears to overcome. Our doubts and hopes and dreams to be understood. Passion drives us….love guides us.
The more we all unite, step up, get involved, the better the chances of helping our friends, our mom and dad, our sister or brother, our children, to have a better chance. And if those above battle these diseases, then a better chance at living a productive life. A chance to see it all through. I will join them again. Even if it is just at base camp. I won’t give up.

Together is One
World Up,
Strong Feather aka Eileen


Anonymous said...

Hi Eileen,
My thoughts are with you--and everyone. Your post is so metaphorical to the Parkinson's experience. It is a journey that demands your all--and all you can do is what you can do.

I'm sure this experience changed you in many, many ways--taught you about yourself, about others.

Take care,
~Carol O'Dell
Author of Mothering Mother

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