The third lesson that came alive to me as I climbed Muhabura was: When you think you’ve dug deep, there is always deeper still.
The hike up Muhabura was very long and laborious. As we climbed higher and higher up the mountain, concentrating on just putting one foot in front of the other, I wondered when the journey would come to an end. Often times during the climb, I felt I had come to the end of myself, to the end of my energies, to the end of my will to go on. When I felt that overwhelming sense, I would take a short break; regain my normal breathing; tell myself I could still go on; look down below me to take in the journey I had done so far; look up above me (not too far lest I got discouraged) to take in the journey ahead of me; then I would take hold of my walking stick, hoist myself up, or ask for a helping hand from the guide or Felix, and I would get up and take a few more steps forward. I repeated this process very many times as I made my way up the mountain. When I felt that I could just not go on, that I had come to the end of myself in that regard, with no more energy to take the next step, somehow, somewhere, the next step would arise, and I would go on.
Along the way, I remembered my coach’s words to me “dig deep”. And that day as we climbed, I dug deep a lot of times.
Mountains are long and laborious. Many times we feel like we have come to the end of our hope, the end of our will to go on or get through the challenge, we feel like we can’t go on, that giving up is easier than pressing on. It is at those points that we need to dig deep. I think God created us with an amazing spirit, and an amazing capacity for tenacity, and sometimes mountains are the only way to bring this out in us. They cause us to see just how much we have it in ourselves to overcome. You may not feel like it in the moment, in the midst of the struggle, of the hurt, of the pain, of the frustration. But it’s always there. When you think you’ve come to the end of yourself, there is always deeper still.
Sometimes it takes getting a little break, sometimes it takes crying a few tears, sometimes it takes a shift in perspective, or a shift in tactics, or a shift in self talk. Sometimes it takes a little prayer – God help me, I need you, I can’t do this on my own. Whatever you need to do to dig deep so that you can keep moving forward, do it.
Dig deep. It’s there. You’ve got it in you. It’s not yet the end.