This summer my choice of the type of the holidays came out quite naturally. I was willing to walk in nature and have some time for myself. That would be the first time for me to make holidays for an extended period of time staying alone.
Thus, in July I left with my 20+ kg rucksack for a 10 days trek for the Tour of Mont Blanc, for a total of around 170 kilometres and 10.000 meters elevation gain. The experience was great and gave me the chance to get to know myself much better. It left me with a significant number of lessons learned I wanted to share.
First of all, the importance of having a crystal clear vision in whatever you are up to in your life. Starting from Les Houches, near Chamonix, I knew I had to complete the loop and coming back to the same place after 10 days walking.
Far from being an extreme experience, it constantly required me to focus my attention on reaching daily my objectives: getting from A to B; finding food and water and a proper place for the tent; assemble and disassemble the tent; stay dry and avoid dangers. Despite the different variables that could get in my way and make the task more difficult: the scorching sun; heavy rain; snow bridges to be crossed; not feeling well; not finding a camping place; the possibility of getting lost.
Still, the clarity of the vision was there guiding with extreme simplicity: having to reach the destination of the day in a safe condition. The steps to be taken where extremely simple: one after another.
The map allowed me to mentally rehearse in advance and be prepared for what had to be accomplished for the day. The direction was always clear, as long as I knew the final destination of the day. Being fully present in every moment. Decisions have to be fast; the destination is important as well as the ability of second-guessing once the conditions are changing.
This kind of experience is representing the perfect metaphor for personal and corporate lives. How can you focus on what is important for you when the direction is not clear? The daily destination may not be always clear; we may not have a map. Nevertheless, taking the time to know where you want to go, to let your vision emerge is central to reach your objectives and in a faster way. Getting lost in the middle of nowhere in the mountains may be dangerous.
Another important lesson learned relates to the chance to confirm first hand the importance of mutual support. As human beings, we are fired and wired to reach more easily our objectives when we are together.
This happened when I talked with other trekkers during the steepest stretches; sharing the last hour of light before the night without having found a location for the tent. Everything seemed lighter; easier and more reachable when I was not alone. Together we are stronger.
The feeling recalled to me about an article I read about Reinhold Messner, one of the greatest climbers of all times. I believe the concept that can be easily applied to the most challenging moments of life and not just high up in the mountains.
“The big problem with being solo is that you cannot divide fear… if you are together with another person, or with two people, you can divide that fear, share it. But when you are alone, the fear is all on you, and it’s very difficult to learn to cope with it, to stay day by day, night by night…. You have to learn to cope, you have to learn it slowly, and in small steps”
The trek gave me again the chance to reconnect with nature. A task that is more difficult to accomplish when deeply involved in our daily life. It gave me the opportunity to confirm myself once again the climate change is for real. Glaciers are shrinking in size every year at an unprecedented level. Seeing is believing.
This is happening in three countries I was passing by during the Tour of Mont Blanc-France, Italy, Switzerland-without no distinction. Global issues are not aware of borders.
The 10 days experience was representing to me a life in miniature with a journey with many uncontrollable variables between a definite beginning and an end. Allowing to bring the lessons learned in nature at a deeper level into daily life.
After all, nature is an amazing teacher. What do similar experiences have been teaching you?