Living an Inspired Life
In 2016, after 6 years of unwavering commitment and preparation, I reached the highest point on earth. As I stood there on the summit of Mount Everest, 8 848 meters above the sea, it felt like I could see the whole world in front of me. I knew that that moment would in many ways come to define my life and life as I knew it, would never be the same. That clear and windy morning, on the 24th of May, there was no one but me, Pemba and our friend and first time Everest summiteer Neema Sherpa that stood on that sacred snow. There wasn’t another soul in sight. I fell to my knees, crying with joy, gratitude and relief while at the same time trying to keep myself together and saving whatever strength I had left. Living with the constant uncertainty of not knowing what the mountain would make me face, and if we would make it or not, was a heavy question mark that I’d been carrying around for so many years. Now, I could let it go. Everest had brought a different meaning to my life and that fueled a fire that was undeniable. It gave me purpose, passion, inspiration and resilience to carry that question mark to dissolution. As much as I was certain it was worth it, I was also hoping that my bold choices wouldn’t prove me wrong. Thousands and thousands of steps later I was there, and exactly where I wanted to be. My mind was clear and as I stood there gazing out over an infinite number of snow covered peaks, feeling the jet winds increasing by the second, I knew that there were things much bigger than me. Things that I had yet to discover, understand and learn. Those last steps to the summit was but a few of a billion. This ending was only the beginning.
Throughout the years I’d had a mantra repeatedly echoing in my mind when things got hard, convincing me of the rewarding fact that ”If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you”. At other times, when my head was in doubt and questioning my choice of dream, I would hear the empowered words spoken by the Liberian politician Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ”If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough”. It gave me courage to pick up the fight against my own disbelief and navigate my next steps. Not only did these words keep me going but they also taught me to appreciate hardship, to stay curious even during the tough moments and to remind myself that challenge is progress and without progress there’s no meaning. It was all part of the journey and as the journey lingered on my steps became less about what I needed to do, and more about who I had to become. I wanted to set a dream so big that I couldn’t achieve it until I had grown into the person who could. A gymnastic trainer that I came across many years ago, by the name of Carl Paoli, pointed out that ”The way you define your goals will determine how you feel about your process”. Few words had made more sense to me. It was with the intention of creating the best version of myself that I had to keep exploring and moving towards the goal that I knew would entail a meaningful process. The process of discovering, becoming and contributing.
As I came down from Everest and made my way back to sea level I was embracing the feeling of hard-earned fulfillment and slowly formed memories carved out from the adventure of a lifetime. While crossing the border from Tibet to Nepal I sensed a feeling of resistance slowly sipping into the corner of my mind. That feeling unknowingly transformed into fear and before I could get a grip of reality I was applying for a visa to Pakistan. The fear of going home and”closing the chapter” on Everest was dawning on me and stirred up the rash and confused decision to climb Broad Peak, a massive mountain standing 8 051 meters tall. My body was more exhausted than I was willing to admit and so was my mind after living above 5 300 meters for almost 8 weeks. All of the sudden I found myself lost and yearning for something to fill the gap of a meaningful dream in the passing, before I had a chance to feel that there was any gap at all. The relief that I had felt from finally being able to let go of the uncertainty prior to the expedition had unexpectedly made me clinch on for dear life. The bureaucracy of Pakistan swiftly terminated any remaining hopes that I had to continue my adventure, and I was left with no choice but to face the fact that time had come to leave the Himalayas and return home to Sweden. I was scared out of my mind. I felt as if there were so many questions that I had yet to find answers for. I was barely able to comprehend what I had experienced myself nevertheless explain it to someone else. But was that really something to be afraid of? As I was rocking back and forth between happiness, gratitude and fear unable to navigate my next step, a coincidental meeting with a stranger shifted everything and I could see the bigger picture. The picture of what I thought this journey was going to be, and what it was actually becoming.