THE CLIMB OF LIFE

THERE’S A POPULAR CHINESE ADAGE I THINK HAS BEEN USED FAR TOO MANY TIMES IN ONE TOO MANY ESSAYS. IT GOES LIKE THIS, ‘THE JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES BEGINS WITH ONE STEP’. I BET YOU’V HEARD IT COUNTLESS OF TIMES.  I NEVER QUITE UNDERSTOOD THE ADAGE TILL I EMBARKED ON MY JOURNEY TO CLIMB MOUNTAIN AFADJATO- THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN IN WEST AFRICA.

IT WAS A SUNNY DAY AND THE WEATHER WAS JUST GREAT FOR HIKING I HAD NO IDEA THAT THE JOURNEY WILL BE AS INTENSE AS IT WAS. WITH NO ROPES OR HIKING INSTRUMENTS OR HEALTH ASSISTANTS WE BEGAN THE CLIMB OF A LIFE TIME. AT THE START, WE WERE ABOUT 40 BY TIME WE GOT HALF WAY WE WERE HALF THAT NUMBER. WITH MY BARE HANDS I FELT FOR STONES AND PLANTS TO ASSIST ME AS I CLIMBED MY WAY TO THE TOP OF THE STEEP MOUNTAIN. NOT UNTILL I BEGAN THE CLIMB DID I REALISE IT WAS ALMOST 3,000 FEET ABOVE SEA LEVEL. I HAD SEVERAL THOUGHTS OF QUITTING, BUT MY FRIEND KEPT INSISTING WE GET TO THE TOP. WITH OUR BREATHS SHORTENED BECAUSE OF THE ALTITUDE WE GASPED AT EACH AIR IN OUR NOSTRILS. YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY THAT AS YOU CLIMB HIGHER IT GETS COLDER… IT WASN’T THE CASE WITH MOUNTAIN AFADJATO; IT FELT LIKE THE SUN WAS CLIMBING WITH US WITH EACH PROGRESSION ACORSS THE DIFFERENT ‘FLOORS’ OF THE MOUNTAIN. I WAS DRENCHED IN MY OWN SWEAT AND COMPLETELY BREATHLESS.

THE GUIDE HAD TOLD US EARLIER IT WILL TAKE 45MINS AND WE HAD DONE OVER AN HOUR AND WE WERE STILL NOT HALF WAY TO THE TOP YET. WHAT MADE IT WORSE WAS THAT WE WERE NOT THE ONLY ONES MOUNTAIN CLIMBING THAT DAY. AS OTHERS DESCENDED FROM THE TOP, THEY DISCOURAGED US WITH THEIR CONDESCENDING TALKS OF HOW FAR WE WERE AWAY FROM THE TOP. I WAS FARMISHED AND DISCOURAGED. WE DREW ENCOURAGEMENTS WITH SONGS AND PLEASANT THOUGHTS. WE RESTED A LOT MORE AS WE GOT HIGHER, AND WE ENCOOUNTERED THE LITTLE ‘MOUNTAIN BOYS’ WHO SOLD REFRESHMENTS AND WE PURCHASED SOME YOGURTS.

IT TOOK US OVER TWO HOURS TO GET TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN. WHEN WE GOT TO THE TOP, I SHOUTED SO LOUDLY I THOUGHT MY VOICE WILL NEVER RETURN. WE MET OTHERS FROM THE GROUP WHO HAD ALSO ARRIVED THERE. THEY WERE SURPRISED AND IMPRESSED THAT WE DID NOT QUIT. I WAS ALSO PROUD OF MYSELF. FROM THAT DAY ON I FELT DIFFERENT AND VOWED THAT NOTHING CAN EVER BE MORE DIFFICULT THAN THE CLIMB OF A LIFE TIME!!

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