Today marks exactly 2 months since my return from Mount Kilimanjaro, a changed person as I thought at the time, but I was wrong. Climbing Kili and reaching the summit did not change me, I am still the same person who left to realise her childhood dream.
As we walked into the arrivals hall at OR Tambo International Airport on 20 July, we were met by an overwheming public and media reception. I was extremely emotional with tears of happiness and exhaustion running down my face. I felt different, changed, not myself.
After leaving the airport that day I went home and tried to get as much sleep as possible, in-between interviews, for the next 2 days.
In the days following, I felt strangely unsettled. The fact that I have made it to “the place above the clouds” and reached Uhuru Peak, was starting to manifest in my mind. This is something I have dreamt of for 39 years and now it was over. I’ve realised my childhood dream and delivered on my promise to climb Kili for Kairo and Caring4Girls but what was supposed to happen now? What did this all mean to me and how did it change me as a person or impact my life, my purpose, my being?
I wanted to write about my Kilimanjaro experience at the time but strangely I couldn’t. I didn’t know what to say apart from giving an account of the physical experience. The true meaning of what I have achieved was still very unclear in my mind so I decided to give myself some time, absorb the details, remember the moments and make sense of it all.
In the last 2 months, I’ve tried to figure out exactly how the mountain has changed me, what I have learned and what it is that I can share from my experience that would impact others.
I have learned so much and I have a whole lot to share but the one thing I now know with certainty is that Mount Kilimanjaro did not change me. The experience of being part of the Trek4Mandela Expedition, the physical climb and reaching Uhuru Peak, did not change me … it has helped me BE MORE.
A few years back towards the end of 2012, I had a conversation with someone who is very special to me and who has been a close friend for many years. We spoke about impact (a word I have adopted ever since) and purpose and he said the following:
“Strive not to do more but simply be more. More loving, more forgiving, more patient, more giving and caring, more understanding.”
Prof. Edward Christian Kieswetter
Edward’s words have always stayed with me and I continuously strive to BE MORE but my time on the mountain has simply deepened my understanding of what that really means.
Kilimanjaro was avery personal experience for me. I will always treasure the memories, be grateful for my Kilimanjaro experience, conquering myself and the mountain and the lessons learned along the way.
Do you have a personal mountain to conquer? What is holding you back?
Images: By Xavier Photography