Asking for help might be a little bit hard to do....

In 1995, I left my very corporate job at Xerox and  my panty hose for Asia where I had wanted to fulfill my dream of living in another country while teaching English. After a month in China & Hong Kong, my brother and I found jobs in the not so lovely city of Taichung, Taiwan where I spent the next 6 months dodging traffic while wearing a surgical mask (pollution). It was nothing like the fantasy I had concocted in my head. I let go of that dream rather quickly, but made enough money to travel for the next six months by myself through South East Asia (my brother met a girl and he stayed).

The highlight of my six months backpacking through Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Nepal was my time spent trekking in the Himalayas. While in Kathmandu, I had met some guys from Australia & Isreal and tagged along with them to the Everest region where we took an old Russian helicopter to start our trek. Needless to say, the overly macho Aussies were not that excited to have a chick tag along. I made sure they knew that they were not responsible for me.

The culmination of the ten day trek was reaching the summit of Gokyo Ri (17,575 ft). We left at 3:00 in the morning to summit the last peak to watch the sun rise over Mt. Everest. Nothing short of spectacular. More than the sun rising itself that sticks in my memory, is the deft silence experienced while hiking at that altitude. I remember a couple of birds flying by at 17,000 feet and the sound was deafening….like a couple of F-14ʻs roaring in between the peaks. Other than that, only the sound of my breath could be heard.

After returning to our lodge that evening, I noticed I wasnʻt feeling well. In the morning, I told the guys to scoot on out, as I didnʻt want to be the chick that kept everyone waiting. I took it slowly, as it was going to be a 6 hour trek back to the village of Namchee Bazaar where we would spend the night. However, after an hour and losing my breakfast with blood in my vomit (sign of high altitude sickness), I knew I was in rough shape. SO, I took a seat on the side of the trail to study my options. After a while, a couple of Yaks with some Nepalese were headed up. They took no notice of me. After another couple of hours, a young couple was coming down the mountain. They gave me a brief head nod and when they started to continue on, I tentatively said, “Excuse me."

After living a life of feeling that I needed to prove to the world that I could do everything on my own and that I didnʻt need anyoneʻs help, I was now in a position of really needing some help. “Excuse me, but I…I….I…think I need some help.” It took everything in my power to let go of the attachment of I DONʻT NEED ANYONE to “I NEED HELP.” I was a sobbing sack of potatoes when I explained that I was too weak to carry my back pack and that I had vomited blood. As this Scottish couple had just helped the first woman to summit Everest without Oxygen and unaided by sherpas (Alison Hargreaves), they knew that high altitude sickness was nothing to mess around with. The very large bearded Scottsman put my pack on top of his and his girlfriend lifted me up to help me down the mountain to the next teahouse. Coincidentally, the doctor from their Everest team, was shortly behind them and he insisted that I needed to get down to a lower elevation. 

There were two options to get me down. I could either be strapped to the back of a Yak or a porter could be hired to carry my bag while I walked behind them. As sick as I felt, I knew I could not give up my attachment to being in control and strapped to the back of a hairy beast whoʻs shuffling gait along the rocky path of the steep himalayan mountains would have been too much. So, I settled into a walking pace of slow and steady for the next four hours behind my porter and the kind doctor. When we reached the village of Namchee and to the safe altitude, they found me a lodge and I checked in for the next week to decompress and heal from my adventure ($3.00 a night!).

Since that time, Iʻve learned to ask for help. Letting go of my need to do it all alone has enriched my life in ways I never dreamed. Learning to ask for help is a strength. It was just one of my many attachments to an idea of who I thought I “should” be that didnʻt serve me anymore.

What attachments or beliefs do you have about yourself that donʻt serve you anymore? Letʻs take the time to explore this as we meet for meditation and fellowship tonight.