“I’m not sure how to explain it,” I hesitated, “but it feels as though a part of me wants to die in Mexico.“ I make an attempt to articulate to my best friend Dani, what has been nagging at me for a long time. The power of synchronicity is incredible is it not? Later that evening, I randomly open a page in Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha to read the following: “He reflected for a long time on his transformation, listened to the bird sing with joy. Had this bird within him not died? Had he not felt its death? No, something else in him had died something that had been longing to die for a long time… He had died and a new Siddhartha had awakened from his sleep.”
I had been unhappy with my life for a long time. Not to say that I didn’t occasionally feel glimpses of happiness, but I felt as though my life lacked a certain sense of direction – purpose even. And if I am being honest, I wanted to lay all this heaviness I felt inside me to rest, for good! I had planned a trip to Mexico for my birthday, to visit with an old friend but I knew long before I would arrive, that this trip carried with it a spiritual undertone. My friend Oscar had suggested that we visit the town of Tepoztlán on our way to his vacation home in Cuernavaca, which is approximately 5500 feet above sea level and home of the Tepozteco Mountain. He had promised me in not so many words that the Pyramid of Tepozteco, though not impressive itself, offered incredible views but first, I had to suffer an arduous 2.1 kilometer hike.
At the entrance of the trail, where the altitude had already gotten the better of me, Oscar burst into a fit of laughter. He knew what lay ahead and in my ignorance, though I could argue intelligence, I had asked that he refrain from describing the climb for fear that I wouldn’t give this challenge a fair try.
As we continued to climb, I quietly engaged my thoughts – they were mostly angry ones from my feet, or lungs (I couldn’t quite figure out which were louder). At one point, I decided to rest on a boulder that was about 4-5 times my size. In between long swigs of water, I surveyed the distance between me and my starting point which was now covered by unfamiliar vegetation. I had a revelation, that this climb was very much like life in so many ways and as I continued to ascend (perhaps in thought as well), these life lessons kept gently presenting themselves. At another stop – this one to gain my sanity – someone’s grandmother in an amazing display of dexterity of someone much younger than her, and in flip flops no less, just breezed past me. Oscar raised his brows at me as if to say – see if she can do it so can you! Go at your own pace, life said. What benefit would it serve me to go at someone else’s pace? What matters most in life we are often told is not the destination but rather the journey, no? When would I have had the time to focus on my thoughts and this incredible experience as it was unfolding? And what’s more, we would all end up at the same destination and the feat would be no less impressive if it took me all day to eventually arrive!
“I’ve never heard that one,” Oscar says. He is talking about the U.g.l.y. you ain’t got no alibi cheer – which he finds hysterical. As if to distract me, he encourages me to sing it out loud from time to time. He is clever really, because only now do I understand that he was helping to cheer me on. In those moments when I would cheer the loudest, there’d be this burst of energy that would allow me to continue persevering. He brought out the best in me and his support allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and take part in this crazy adventure! Surround yourself with amazing people.
Somewhere along the road (pun intended) I had lost my sense of self-worth and belief in myself. For a time, it was as though I had given that responsibility of believing in myself to others. Yet, here I was almost hallway through the climb that I thought would finish me – yes a bit dramatic I know- but at this point my body felt as though it were not my own. There were moments where I grew uncharacteristically quiet, but I kept thinking to myself how I could complete this and how incredibly proud of myself I’d be. Believe in yourself.
Three quarters of the way up, we approached a tour group from Reunion who insisted in French that we were only six to seven minutes away but for me it would be another twenty minutes to the foot of a very steep stair case that finally gets you to the top! The pyramid was unassuming as I had been forewarned, but the panoramic view was incredibly beautiful and breathtaking. Oscar and I sat on the edge of the top level of the pyramid, looking into the distance, lost in thought. You can overcome anything.
Could it be that I had come all this way, to have the opportunity to fall in love with my life again despite leaving a part of myself on that sacred trail? Could I not feel the joy that in being myself, I color the lives of others? I finally understood that even when I don’t feel like it, my like has meaning; my life is meaningful as it is for every one of us. Be open to life