Few weeks ago, when I was still in Rio de Janeiro, I spent a couple of days with some brazilian friends in Itacoatiara, a beautiful beach town 2 hours from Rio.
In Itacoatiara there is a huge rock on one side of the beach. My friend Laura told me it had a wonderful view of Itacoatiara and and the bay of Rio. So I decided to climb it even though I have no climbing experience whatsoever.
The rock looked impressive but Laura was reassuring “no worries, there are only a steep 100m that you’ll find hard”, and I told myself “nothing that I wouldn’t be able to overcome anyway”.
At first I walked through a marked trail and then on the rock itself, steep but ok. I was still running out of breath so I started my “smiley liver, happy lungs” treat. It’s a long story of how I found my self the first time asking my liver to smile and my lungs to be happy, but anyway that’s something that works magic on me when I’m hiking. A kind of mantra that takes my body in minutes from a suffering state, out of breath, sweating like a river, to a happy being in a sweet symbiose with the nature.
I went my way forward, taking difficulties one by one but still advancing, slowly, surely, until I reached the famous sleep 100m. I was suddenly completely frozen, not able to move a foot or a hand. Paralyzed.
And it was when, out of nowhere, came this guy. He was literally running down the giant rock and came straight to me ” dê me tua mão” he said. At first I was like “nao esta bom”, “dê me tua mão ” he insisted, so I gave him my hand and he took me few meters up, until we reached a less steep part of the rock. He then showed me the direction I should take next and went back down…running.
At that precise moment I thought about all those who, at some point in my life, took my hands and accompanied me to overcome a steep trail until I reached a safe place. I felt an immense gratefulness toward all those who showed me the way, as well as those who are not busy running to stop and help a complete stanger.
I’m immensely grateful to the universe for continually teaching me that life and people are awesome!
I finally reached the top and it was as I imagined, highly rewarding. The view was breathtaking, but that wasn’t all. My ego and I were in the same place for once, feeling proud reaching the top and so humble in front of its magnificence. We were one, reconciled, happy to be together and accepting each other with no more judgments.
And then there was this moment when I needed to go back and down. The simple idea of it made my legs shake of fear. I actually suffer from vertigo and slipping out of a hill is one of my biggest fears. But I had literally no other choices. There was no other way to land safely on a flat ground except going back the same way I went up and overcoming one of my biggest fears. There was nobody to help or show me the way this time, so I just completely relied on myself.
And it was indeed very hard at the beginning. I could hardly make a step without stopping for a moment to breath, encourage myself and look at the cliff. And then I started talking to myself. It was a more confident and calm version of me talking “there is no point in looking toward the end of the trail, just focus on each step, look down your steps and make sure you enjoy and remember each one of them”. And I did. The ground started to look strangely flat when I did not look beyond my feet. It went incredibly easy, and I started walking, my body all straight, with confidence.
Until I reached the very steep place the running guy helped me to climb up. Not looking beyond my feet didn’t make a big difference. It was so steep that the ground felt like running under my feet. It was when I heard again my own voice “Sit down now. Just sit. You don’t need to be standing all the time. Sit down. Use your entire body and go slowly. Oh wait, don’t let your fear go away. Being afraid sometimes is perfectly ok. It’s what makes you survive”.
And so I did. l alternated between going fast, standing, going very slow, sitting on my butt, using my hands ans legs and feet and fear…to overcome the very steep parts of the cliff.
When I finally got down, I was so happy and proud of myself, then I cried…
I had just realized that it was like climbing my dreams and then going down back to earth. I had just realized actually that landing back safely was the most rewarding after all.
That’s when I knew I was ready to go back home…
Two days later I was finally able to go get that ticket back home, not without feeling sad about the idea of leaving my new confort zone; travelling, but relieved and feeling as serene as I felt the last days before my departure, almost a year ago.
A wonderful year around myself!