Last week, someone asked me the following question:
Have you ever been in a situation you didn’t want to be in, but dealt with it anyway? How did it turn out?
Clad in a business suit and high heels, I sat in a corporate office, poised and confident. I had to smile as my mind flashed back to the rainy mountains of North Carolina…
We were tired. We were hungry. We were wet.
The clouds sagged with moisture as we began our hike that morning, but it didn’t take long before the rainfall was thick and heavy.
We slowly followed a narrow and rustic path up and up and up. Our heavy backpacks weighed as burdens on our backs as we trudged step after step through the mud and the rain until we reached the ridge-line of the mountain.
Lunch was quick and soggy as thunder began to rumble quietly in the distance, reverberating off the mountain walls.
“Let’s go quick.” I shouted through the rain, trying to conceal my discontent about the approaching sounds of thunder. A mountain ridge is not a safe location for a lightening storm.
We hiked on and on and on.
The thunder became louder and louder and louder.
The group grew more and more anxious with every step.
“Are we almost there?”
“How much further?”
One group member threw her heavy backpack off. It hit the sodden earth with a thud.
“I’m not carrying this anymore!”
We were unraveling. The thunder shook. The lightening flashes were now visible.
We needed to get off that mountain.
“This is becoming a very unsafe situation, very quickly. I need you guys to stay calm and focused. We need to move.” My voice was even and direct, but on the inside I was pleading.
She replied, but would not make eye contact. “NO.”
We were unraveling. I wanted to be anywhere else in life besides my immediate situation.
“I’m not carrying her weight! That’s not fair!”
Before I had time to strategize a response, the thunder shook, and the lightening flashed.
This time, it was too close for comfort.
I have never seen someone hoist a backpack over their shoulder with such force and determination. Wide-eyed and terrified, she once more began to hike.
We shimmied down and off of the mountain ridge as fast as we could, arriving on a flat surface just as the raindrops turned into hail balls the size of marbles. They pelted down upon us.
My body went into survival mode as I tore a tarp off of one of the backpacks, running football style through the hail.
I could hear the group yelling as the hail stung at their skin. They crouched under raincoats, seeking refuge from the weather.
I strung the tarp between trees as fast as my body would cooperate. The hail fell with force and the wind whipped through the trees, but I had one thought.
Keep the group safe.
The shelter was up. We crowded under it, and I felt my body relax for the first time in hours.
The group was safe.
That evening, after the weather had subsided, we sat around the fire, sipping on hot chocolate.
The group laughed as they recalled the day’s series of epic events. So quickly they had forgotten the tension of the weather.
Someone began singing the Disney classic, ‘A Whole New World’. The group member who had dropped her pack earlier linked arms with those next to her and started to sway back and forth. The chain continued all the way around the circle until the entire group was swaying, arm and arm. They smiled as they sang.
“A whole new world! A dazzling place I never knew!”
I sat back with my hot chocolate and soaked in the scene. There was no other situation I wanted to be in at that moment.
I leaned forward in my chair a bit as I began, “Let me share a story with you.”