There's a particular section of the Everest climb called The Khumbu Icefall. It's a very dangerous part of the mountain - the climb being very difficult and unavoidable to anyone wishing to reach the summit - and it is incredibly treacherous because it's actually a glacier that was torn up through natures elements over a significant length of time, resulting in huge crevices and blocks of ice, some the size of valleys and others taller than a twelve story building - all scattered along a few kilometers before the first resting place called Camp 1. Many people have died here, trying to pass through the dangerous path, which takes an average of 10 hours to cross.
But that is just the beginning. See, because the Icefall is the very first obstacle one encounters when climbing Everest from Base Camp. Not that getting to Base Camp is all that easy, taking into account that it takes between 10 and 14 days, since there are no roads leading there.
The first thing climbers do when they make the journey through Icefall to Camp 1 is rest there for three days. Because when climbing any mountain, it is imperative to acclimatize to the environment, air temperature and altitude. Climbing straight to the top will result in certain death. They have to move slowly, making calculated movements to avoid any accidents and taking care not to strain themselves and their limited resources.
So they make that torrid journey to Camp 1, navigating that extremely volatile environment, and when they eventually reach it, they rest for three nights before heading back down to Base Camp... where they spend another three nights, before beginning all over again. Over the weeks, they eventually work their way up to Camp 2, stay there three nights before going back down to Base Camp... where they spend another three nights... before going up to Camp 3 to stay there for three nights, before coming down again to Base Camp and starting all over again...
This goes on for three full months. And every time, the climbers have to trek through the unforgiving terrain of Icefall, to get to their Camp, just to come back down again. It's a painfully slow, relentless process but necessary to ensure that the climber acclimatizes to the environment... and acclimatization can only occur over a long period of time. Hence moving slow and steady is essential, not only to succeed, but to survive. The harsh environment not only tests every climbers physical capabilities, but their mental and psychological faculties as well. It's as important to stay positive as it is not to overexert oneself. The entire operation is nothing short of gruesome.
The Summit itself is a brief affair - not lasting for more than an hour. So all that work - 18 months of preparation, 3 months of climbing, for an hour on top of the mountain? It sounds utterly ridiculous. But ask any climber who has reached the top if they have any regrets or if they'd change anything, and every single one of them will say NO. To them, that one solitary hour is worth everything they had to endure over the better part of the previous two years.
And of course... people only ever want to know what it was like at the top of the mountain. No one is concerned with the petty details of the climb, no matter how interesting it is.
Such is life. Anything worth accomplishing requires going through an Icefall of some sort... navigating the difficult road and staying positive, no matter how many times we have to climb back down to Base Camp just to start all over again. Calculated moves, careful thinking, taking care of yourself on every level - physically, mentally, psychologically, spiritually - are all requisites to reaching your summit. And of course, people will only ever want to know what it was like to succeed - no one knows about the countless hours that go into accomplishing the goal - the blood, the sweat, the tears. No one is around for the gritty slog, day in and day out.
Slow and steady wins the race. Progress only comes to the patient. And this message has really hit home during this past Ramadan. It could not be more relevant to me - the Queen of a tribe called Impatient. This Ramadan, I've been tested in ways that I've never been tested before. And I found it incredibly challenging most days - the hunger and thirst not having anything to do with it at all. It felt like my soul and spirit was being tested, pushed to its limits, forced to reevaluate and be open to change. It certainly wasn't easy but with the Grace of The Almighty, I feel like I've covered some ground and made some progress.
Sometimes I think that we are inclined to put too much emphasis on the outcome. We don't take a second to stop and appreciate the process - the journey - the very essence of what makes us, us. And it leaves us feeling hollow and empty. In a way, it robs us of all the depth and meaning in our accomplishments. Life is not a race. There really is an art to patience and persistence. And yes, it's always easier said then done. But in most cases, it has been done before. And those doers didn't have it any easier. And if they could do it, then so can we. And it always seems impossible, until it's done.