July 02, 2020
“And so the Big 50 is here! In a blink of an eye, a whole life is fully lived and yet, a whole life is still waiting to be lived.
I have never been someone big on parties. I can actually count in my fingers the number of birthday parties I have had in my life. But I have always been someone eagerly wanting to celebrate a birthday with a nice trip. That feeling was definitely an influence from my mother who always told me that travelling is an investment in oneself that can never be taken away. 2020 would be the year marking a milestone in my life and I wanted a celebration that would speak directly to my heart and cherish the ups and downs, the beauty and the challenges that this life has blessed me with. The mountains know time better than anyone. They have seen a lot, faced adversities, fronted changes, met many, and despite all they continue to stand tall, wise and majestic. Deciding to celebrate a life milestone with them was my perfect choice. And so, my “5Summitsfor50” resolution was born. Mt Kosciusko in Australia, Mt Jade in Taiwan, Mt Rinjani in Indonesia, Mt Roraima in Brazil/Venezuela/Guyana and Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania were to be my guests of honour and I would celebrate each one of my five decades in five different parts of the world.
So I set myself ready. Trekking gear, check! Travel plan, check! Physical, mental and emotional readiness, check! Family and work arrangements, check! The list was long and all was in the right place. All ready to go. Then 2020 hit the world. And it certainly had a message to deliver. Bush fires in Australia made the trip to Kosciusko too dangerous. I had already experienced the closeness of forest fires in one of the 2019 treks and it is not something anyone wants to play with. Australia was off the list. Covid-19 made its way and Taiwan was clearly off the list as well. Now, everything seemed to be up in the air. Borders closed down, we locked ourselves inside our homes. And suddenly the world stopped. All was halted in suspension. All felt completed differently. Things were not where we thought they would be anymore. Everything shifted places. Ups were downs, rights were lefts. And we had to reassess and adapt.
What did not stop? Time. The clock continued to tick and the feeling of finitude became as real as ever imagined. Yes, a whole life had been fully lived. But yet, how much more life was left still waiting to be lived?
“5Summitsfor50” became more than a resolution. It became exactly what I had intended it to be. An unforgettable celebration of the beauty and the challenges life has gifted me. I could not travel to my mountains, but they did not fail me. And I was not going to sit and just wait for time to wash away the moment. So, boots on and up we go then! In April I virtually climbed Mt Kosciusko on the staircase of my apartment building. 29,706 stair steps completed in 3 days. Followed by 52,700 stair steps to celebrate Mt Jade and 49,680 stair steps for Mt Rinjani. Yes, my own mountains in Singapore, climbed according to schedule and not a day later. And the best part, with the support and cheers from my family and friends who were always by my side. Things change, we adapt. My milestone celebration is still happening and could not have been any better. Caring gestures have meant so much during this phase. From cards, flowers and slices of cakes delivered to my home, from the absolutely perfect gift from someone who was listening, from friends forming teams to virtually climb a mountain with me, from the opportunity to finally listen to the lyrics of hundreds of songs and to reflect about life during the long hours of solo stairs climbing, the celebration during lockdown could not have been more perfect. I did not travel anywhere, but I have been to the most extraordinary places of understanding, friendship, personal achievement and celebration of life. What else could I have asked for?
Mt Roraima starts tomorrow. A mysterious place right there to be seen and learned about. Another unique opportunity that only a world in pause mode can offer. And I cannot wait to see what my virtual mountain will gift me with this time!”
June 09, 2020
April 03, 2020
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