Archive | May, 2015

The Slow Climb to the Top

27 May

Hello there, dear readers! I promised you I would continue to have adventures right? Well, this Memorial Day weekend certainly was one!


Well, my friend Astrid was visiting from Germany & after a few days of Boston & Sutton she was planning on driving up to the White Mountains of New Hampshire alone. In a very un-Jessi turn of events at the last minute I decided to join her!

Since everything was booked we stayed in an Organic Farm Homestead hippie commune for a night (D Acres Homestead in Rumney, totally recommend it!). This commune was basically just a bunch of people who lived in this whimsical house in the woods & survived off their crops/farm animals. Very different way of life, but pretty damn cool.

(Oh you know, just an intimate mixed dorm/floor of 18 people)

Since Astrid loves nature we decided to go for a hike.

Note: ‘hiking’ for me is walking through the woods for an hour or two & enjoying the scenery before heading back to civilization. ‘Hiking’ for Astrid was climbing to the 5,000 foot summit of Mount Moosilauke in a grueling 6 hour trek.

Did I mention I went on an adventure? 

(We climbed one of these…)

The first hour was fine, fairly flat & peaceful. There were streams, leaves, mud & a sense of serenity. Then we hit the incline…& it kept going…& going. Now I am not typically a complainer, but I was getting the workout of my life. And (just like my caving adventure) was doing this all without water/a very empty belly with nothing in it but a few handfuls of Chex Mix.

Long story short–I was severely under-prepared.

Astrid was having a blast though so I tried to power through…that was until I felt like I was on my death bed & we passed a woman who informed us that we still had two hours to go. Every other person descending the mountain chuckled at our light fleece jackets warning us of the snow waiting for us at the peak…oh yes, I was just chipper.

(When I thought we were just having a peaceful stroll in the woods…)

But I kept walking.

Soon we ascended the forest & walked up the dirt peaks. The sun beat down on us & I was sweating like a maniac. I was thiiiiis close to stopping because I couldn’t do it, the pain was too much.

But then–like it always seems to do when I’m having a rough time–fate stepped in.

A couple walking with 3 small dogs passed us. The woman watched me weeze with a look of sheer empathy as she passed. Then suddenly I hear the voice of an angel speak to me:

“Here, do you want this bottle of water?” 

I felt like I was hallucinating. Actually I could have been. I typically drink 3-5 giant water bottles a day so by this time I was so dehydrated I was seeing little white spots in front of my face.

I graciously thanked this saint of a woman & am reminded of my life mantra that has always stuck with me no matter where I go: never under-estimate the kindness of strangers. 

I take a refreshing gulp of the somehow still cold liquid & am brought back to life. This is enough to power me through the next mile, however, by this time I tell Astrid to go on ahead & I will meet her when I meet her.

(…As if the experience wasn’t grueling enough, look what was waiting for me at the top)

For almost 45 minutes I walked completely alone in silence on the mountain. You/anyone who knows me would never believe it–but I am quite the introvert deep down. I love long periods of not speaking, something I have only learned to appreciate after my time in Prague.

 The sharp incline of a path winds on forever. To both sides of the path is deep, dark woods; creatures rustle within & watch me from afar. I am not afraid because I am too lost in thought.

& All I can think about is the grueling incline my life has recently assumed. My mind races with deep contemplation.

Sometimes I feel like my adventures are over. I feel stuck in one place, with the same people & the same experiences. I can almost hear a clock ticking away in my head, counting down the days, months, years until I have to start a family/buy a house/be an adult in society’s eyes.

Dreading the day when the party is finally over. 

But what about all that space in between?

How does one truly get from A to Z when they’re too busy day dreaming about G, L & S?

It’s actually a lot like hiking up that mountain: I know where I am standing in this moment right now & I know where I eventually hope to be (the summit)…but what about everything in between? The babbling brooks, jagged rocks & slippery snow? The sweat & pain & terrible defeated thoughts cursed over a sweaty brow?

Could that be the most important part?

(Oh, the places you can go at D Acres)

I used to love the fact that I was 24.

I was young & most importantly I was free. But it’s scary the types of phrases people start repeating once they stop flying. They complain about money & the future. They care about 401k plans to take care of their hypothetical families. They stay in every Friday night & when they do go out sit across from a person who also has their eyes glued to a phone.

How do you even know you want a family? How do you even know you’ll have one?! 

I guess that’s just a socially acceptable 5 year plan.

But my 5 year plan used to be so different from the average 24 year old. When I was in Prague I pictured teaching in Asia & South America, constantly migrating to different zip codes when I got bored & craved new adventure.

But now my joy comes from planning my next vacation. How will I carefully distribute those generous 21 days to temporarily suffice ravenous almost painful wanderlust? I dread the day ‘responsibility’ threatens to clip my wings.

(Above the tree line, I made it)

Because I love being out of my comfort zone. 

I love being pushed off into the deep end & teaching myself how to swim.

I love testing my physical limits; risking bruises & cuts in order to accomplish what I’m capable of.

I love going into a room of strangers chattering away in another language.

I love being forced to create familiarity in the terribly unfamiliar because to me it is so much better then sinking into a constant settled state of numbness. 

I would take this sharp awful incline of a trek over a flat boring promenade any day.

Because that’s the only way you will ever grow! It’s how you realize your true strength–by testing it!

So yes, every single step I took up that mountain was pain. My heart was pounding, my sneakers were slipping, my back was aching, my legs were tight & I cursed myself all the way. Cursed myself for not being more fit, more athletic, quicker, more relaxed, more cheerful.

But then, after 3.5 hours of struggling–I did it.

I would like to say that the views at the top or the feeling of achievement was enough to negate all the pain. I would like to feed you some cheesy line about ‘never give up’ or ‘pain is temporary’ but it’s been 3 days & my legs STILL hurt.

If anything climbing to the 5,000 foot summit of Mount Moosilauke gave me the same feeling I had after I completed the caving trip in Budapest–that my determination is the strongest thing about me.

I am not as fit as you, not as fast as you, not going to be whistling the whole way & will certainly not turn around & hike the whole mountain again the next day–but if there’s one thing that’s true about me it’s that when I want something, I go get it. 

And to me right now, I can have virtually anything I want. I can go teach English in Taiwan, I can get my masters in Sweden, I can join the Peace Corps in Africa, I can road trip to California, I can learn my goal of 7 languages.

Because what they don’t tell you when you’re young, dear readers, is that you have all the power. 

Age is not power–freedom is power. Choice is power.

& When you think about it, the obstacles (or mountains) in between you & your goal, whether they be blisters or student loans, in actuality, are not really holding you back.

You just need to notice all the choices, the opportunities, the different paths you could take.

Some people choose to drag themselves to the top of the mountain, some people choose to turn back after their first cramp & some people choose not to even get out of the car at all.

So regarding life, which one are you?

JG 🙂