On September 19, some two and a half months after summitting Kilimanjaro, I’ve finally changed the “Why I Climb” section of my blog to “Why I Climb(ed).” While I still long for smelling the cool mountain air, looking at the smiles of the Tanzanian guides and porters, and thinking about all the amazing people and stories that inspired me to climb, I’m happy to be back home in America.
Don’t get me wrong: endings like this one were bittersweet; one second, I was on top of the world (literally), watching the sun rise and feeling its warmth in my soul…and the next, I was back at my office desk, bathed in a fluorescent light. I went from climbing over ancient rocks and boulders and helping others to watching cable from my couch and typing emails.
But it’s exciting to think about all the new adventures upon which I’m lucky enough to embark. Next on my list are a few races to run, and a LIVESTRONG Challenge where I can ride my bike, too. My perspective is renewed, and I’m smarter for it. I’ve realized that while the climb is over, the experiences and lessons learned are not. As I remember writing my penultimate Texas 4000 blog post, which was a stream of consciousness coupled with reflection and emotion:
“I thought—happily—to myself, ‘it’s not over yet.’
Because there’s no going back to normal after this. Not after the things I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, and the places I’ve been. Not after the summer I’ve spent with 43 friends—and my Rockies brothers and sisters. Not after riding to Alaska. The ride has effectively changed me for the rest of my life and, in doing so, the ride never really ends.
It keeps going, until we find a cure. It keeps going, in my heart and my memories, through my blogs and photos. The distance keeps us together. And it keeps us going; this whole experience is part of me, forever.”
It’s a little normal—and okay, maybe a little lame—for me to be back at home and taking care of the regular, mundane aspects of my life. Yet for what I hope to do longterm, things are far from being boring. I value the opportunity I had to climb Kilimanjaro with Survivor Summit. I want to always cherish those memories and remember why (and for whom) I climbed. I aim to harness those moments of my life spent in Tanzania in order to be extraordinary, kind, and compassionate. As such, I will always be climbing for a cure and in turn, striving to be the best person I can be.