I’d been thinking about tackling some ideas I’ve had about being human for a while. After reading this quote, I knew that I had to take some form of action.
“When you get tired, don’t quit; rest”
Tired could mean a whole lot of things but to me, it’s the heart-searing frustration that comes with putting bucketloads of effort into something that means a lot to me but not achieving the milestones needed to go further. Tiredness is not only draining but also humiliating in a way. Tiredness is a reminder that mortality exists.
Anyway, drawing action from thought, I decided to wander outside my bubble and walk up Lion’s Head. I put on a vest (forgetting that it would cool down later in the day), grabbed my notebook and downed an energy drink and a coke, fighting every instinct to turn back as I walked to the bus stop.
The 107 to Camps Bay pulls up and I’m already feeling clammy in the afternoon heat. Of course, the bus is packed with people and the air is infused with an entire mornings worth of recycled breath and evaporated sweat. God forbid someone get the aircon working.
Practicing my calming thoughts I conjure a thought-bubble, — “I am the Universe becoming aware of itself, I am myself becoming aware of the Universe”
It’s a struggle not to switch to — “I am the Universe rolling its eyes at some idiot” as I spend half the ride debating whether to stand up for a girl to have my seat.
Fast forward to me buying a bottle of water at the foot of the trail. Hordes of people are gathering, ready to perform the sacred full moon pilgrimage that had spurred my own decision to do the same. Talk about a self-deprecating feedback loop. I notice the backpacked, spandex clad fitness freaks and my motivation sinks a notch. I feel like a devolved whale as sweats pours out of me, immediately soaked up by the dark vest sporting an image of a bearded man. My notebook is my only comfort as I grip it tightly.
I go over the reasons I decided to challenge myself and I recall walking this way with my mother. The memory of her is encouraging and I stop for a while at the bench we had soaked in the sight of Table Mountain, some weeks back.
Momentarily renewed, my trek continues.
As the trail curves into the sunlight, I feel like a ship sailing head-on into solar winds. My ragged breath is drawing attention from concerned hikers but my headphones drown out the sound of everything but Demi Lovato’s “Cool for the summer” — I was anything but!
Finally, I let myself stop for a while. For the first time, dragging my eyes away from the ground directly ahead of me and looking out at the vista that made those harrowing first steps worth it.
Having never gone past this point, I felt like an adventurer. A Lone Ranger, smiting the allure of angelic calls to give up and walk back down to the safety of the inner city comforts. The wilderness was now mine to behold!
My body began to adjust itself as I forced it to continue. The strain on my upper body lessened as my legs took on their share of the burden. This left me with a surprising ability to look around me as I walked, unhindered by my supposition that I had to watch the ground for any sign of it needing a hug from me.
I’m not saying it got easier, far from it. It did however, become multidimensional. The air seemed to freshen up and the light danced off buildings down below while insects and flowers silently observed the parade of humans.
The further I walked, the more concerned I got that I wasn’t dressed for the full experience. A breeze had picked up and, of course, my anxiety bade that I forget to enjoy it and focus on my impending death by hypothermia. Nonetheless, I kept walking, enjoying the caffeinated thrill and the power that came with it. No way I was going to waste it!
After some scrambles, slips and mad dives for the handholds, I decided rest. I knew that despite my desire to go further, my baggy shorts and inexperience would lessen the fun for myself and anyone behind me who wanted to dash ahead in time for the apparent party up ahead.
This was where I would turn back, until another time.
I drank most of the water I had with the hope that the bottle wouldn’t weigh me down as I stumbled back. More and more people were heading up and I perfected a balancing act as they squeezed past me. Those moments will forever be embedded in my mind. Gazing down at the steep drop on one side and anxiously avoiding being touched by other sweaty people on the other side, I was caught between a whole lot of air and an awkward, apology filled conversation.
One more contemplation of the city below me and I would be dashing down.
I already knew which pizzas I was going to order for supper and they helped me forget the stench of sweat that had decided to stick to me.
Resisting the urge to take an Uber home, I allowed myself my humanity and braved the bus. My damp clothes reminded me that I was present and my aching legs thanked me as I sat down gingerly at the back by one of two slightly open windows.
After my decontamination process, stepping back into my sterile environment, I wolfed the pizzas, thanked myself for the outing, knowing that all the calories I’d burned were being replaced.
But who was counting? I had learned that it’s all about the view and the effort. And those pizzas looked amazing and finishing them was effortless.