Ever have one of those reflective periods in your life?
It could be a day, it could be a minute, or it could last a season.
Im there; in fact Im right smack in the middle of one of those reflective periods in my life.
Out of Africa is playing (one of my favorite movies), and Im getting nostalgic for Africa. Im also a lot of other things, but I will get to that later. I can’t believe I am leaving in 18 days to climb the world’s tallest free-standing mountain, Kilimanjaro, for my friend Kevin Turner who is suffering from ALS.
Ive been to Africa before, to Kenya, on a photo safari. Africa reached up and grabbed my soul, and it never let go. The people, the land, the animals, the wildness of it all. It was, well, intoxicating. I like to tell people when describing my magical time there that you are the attraction in the cage, your vehicle, and they are in the open, the free creatures. The very opposite of the zoo, if you think of it.
The things I saw there still take my breath away.
I have seen miracle of life in the sprint of a mother cheetah teaching her adsolenct cub to hunt. (a rare sight I am told.) I have seen stars so bright they literally take your breath away. I also remember fearing for my life while “canoeing” on a lake full of angry hippos. I do not lie. (Hippos are one of the most aggressive animals alive and kill just for the kick of it, being herbivores and all.)
What I remember from all of those experiences is feeling utterly and amazingly alive, with life and passion coursing through my veins.
The same way I feel now.
Along with those wonderful feelings, I also feel a bit afraid. Oh who am I kidding, A LOT afraid. We are tackling a HUGE mountain, and while you don’t need technical skills, per se, you do need endurance to boot and will power; will power will certainly help you get up that behemoth of a mountain.
But with this mountain and these altitudes there is a bit of an unknown. You can train until you are blue in the face and your body might not respond to the altitude. In that case, they take you down, no” if’s, and’s or but’s!”
The amazing team has all agreed that we will summit, “by any means necessary.”
But there is always that unknown.
The thing I have learned in all of this is how much this climb correlates to to the everyday mountain Kevin faces, and all those with ALS for that matter. So it makes the journey, each step, that much more powerful.
We will come down off that mountain; Kevin Turner can’t escape the mountain of ALS.
That is why we are climbing.
So that one day maybe someone will come down off the mountain of ALS, victorious.
I believe for that day. I envision that day. I work tirelessly in the name of ALS for that day.
For me this is my life’s passion now.
Meeting Kevin was no accident. Deciding to become a free-lance journalist in 2013 was no accident. Those indelible decisions, and moments, in my life have put me square at the base of Kilimanjaro, literally and figuratively.
If you think of it we are all climbing some sort of mountain, something we can overcome. I know this climb has many meanings for me.
When I summit I will think of the immense courage it takes to face the day with a smile when you are fighting ALS. I will think of my Herculean friend, Kevin Turner, who does this each morning when he rises.
He has said many things to make me stop and think. Things that will never leave me, but potentially the most soul-searing was this from a few months ago.
“People think Im dying with this disease, but that is not the case. I choose to live, every single day, in the face of this disease. I chose life.”
I only hope I to have that kind of courage up on Kili. I hope I can carry that same courage throughout my life; but most of all, I hope my story, and Kevin’s story, has inspired you to LIVE, to REALLY LIVE.
IF you would like to help us bring awareness to this insidious disease by donating to the Kevin Turner foundation or sponsoring the documentary that is going to be made. Please leave your email in the comments below, or feel free to drop me an email at Rachel@RachelBaribeau.com
Pray for us, why don’t you?? We can sure use all the positivety you’ve got. And thank you for understanding how much this means to me, to all of us.
Rachel JOY Baribeau