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Climbing Mountains, Unearthing Dreams

Climbing Mountains, Unearthing Dreams
By: Dimple Yap
Date: 15 Feb 2006

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your mind was telling your body to do a sport or a hobby that you’ve always loved to do and that you knew you could do, but then you hear your body suddenly talking back, “Are you crazy?!”

Sounds familiar? Is it because maybe:

  1. domesticity has taken over your life? or;
  2. you are stuck at a desk job? or;
  3. you are a couch potato?

Being a mother and having a desk job that allows me to work from home, it is (d) all of the above unfortunately for me, and it’s that lethal mix of inactivity that did me in.

My love for hiking and exploring the outdoors from my younger days was for years put on hold; the leather of my trusty old pair of trekking shoes had long gone brittle. So when an opportunity came for me to volunteer to carry donations to a remote barrio in the Cordilleras, I giddily signed up right away, counting on the one full month I still had to condition my body. No big deal, I thought. Volunteers would only have to bring a couple tiny school bags over a four-hour hike that even beginners were invited. No sweat. And HEY, to visit the Cordilleras, I would never pass up an opportunity like that.

Within the week that followed, though, the realization that I was in far worse shape than I thought painfully set in. I would wheeze halfway up the steps to the Quezon Avenue MRT station. Even just picking up clutter from the floor would leave me breathless and dizzy. P-A-T-H-E-T-I-C. Those were enough signs for me to back out of the mission and settle to just make a donation instead.

I was really bewildered because I used to be able to join casual climbs and hikes on short notice. But I left out a very important detail apparently – that was YEARSSS ago. Family and work have since been my priorities, not noticing the unwitting casualties along the way: my calf muscles for one.

The day I withdrew from the Cordillera mission was a turning point for me. The first thing I did was I pulled up a photo that my nephew sent me years earlier and made it my desktop’s wallpaper. It was a picture of my nephew bathed in a golden hue, behind him a sea of hazy clouds and a gloriously painted canvas of the morning sky. It was sunrise at the peak of Mt. Pulag – the second highest mountain in the Philippines.

When I got that photo the first time, I just had a passing thought, “Someday I’ll go there,” but it was more of a wishful thinking considering I had a multitude of things to take care of back here on Earth! But staring at that photo again, I made a pact to myself that a year will not pass without me setting foot on that same spot.

From then on, I faithfully set aside time for exercise. Since my muscles were so wasted to such an extent that I couldn’t join a gym class without embarrassing and possibly injuring myself, I decided to do beginner’s yoga first at home which I coupled with jogging. At the same time, I also surfed for mountaineering clubs on the Web that I could join. Yep. I. Was. Determined. And I intended to bring my family along for the ride! It was a good three months before I was able to build up enough strength and confidence to do a minor climb to Mt. Daguldul, and it was also around that time that my family joined Sikap Bundok and underwent the Basic Trekker Course.

It wasn’t long after that that I found myself hanging on for dear life out of a six-story building doing a crazy stunt people refer to as rappeling. In contrast to my sorry state just months earlier, this time it was my mind hollering out, “Are you crazy?!” much to my body’s amusement.

Since then, through Sikap Bundok as well as independent efforts, I have done things that just a few months back I wasn’t certain whether I could ever do again, and things that I never knew I would ever be doing at all, period.

In only a matter of months, I have climbed Mt. Dagulgul, Mt. Batulao, partially climbed Mt. Pulag (our first attempt was foiled by bad weather), have gone parasailing and whitewater rafting (which were firsts for me!).











But the biggest surprise of all, especially to myself, was that I reached the peak of Mt. Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia! And to think I only dreamed of nailing Mt. Pulag! And the year is not even over yet =)

It’s amazing what you can do for as long as you follow through on what you’ve set your heart out on. There comes a time in one’s life when one settles into a comfort zone, which in my case I had very comfortably settled into, but wherein I lost a part of myself in the process. I’ve learned that you only need to stop for a moment to rediscover your old dreams. If there’s something that you’ve been wanting to do that you’ve just been putting off, it’s about time that you make it happen.

Revive an old hobby. Learn something new. It only takes a decision to go do it.

And like a bright-eyed child, I will be looking forward to the future that holds more mountains and more “firsts” for me.