Have you had the experience of looking back upon something and seeing it completely differently from how you felt in the moment?
I don’t know that we can ever get rid of this perspective shift. As time passes, we become different people. Who we are today is not who we were years ago, and this allows us to view our prior selves as if we were a different person.
Think about when you were a child and thought you were hiding something from your parents. Now you realize that they obviously knew your secret and chose not to tell you. Our perspectives shift.
This morning, a friend from India shared a picture on Instagram of us during a mountaineering course. This was a month-long course in Northern India. I found the school online, and as a poor college student I did little research except to dwell on the excitement of spending a month in the Himalayas for just about $500US!!! Woohoo!!! I was so excited. I somehow missed the fact that it would be largely taught in Hindi, and since most of the students (other than one other American) were from India, they didn’t both to provide different drinking water.
But I digress.
After arriving at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, I was almost sent home because of high blood pressure. I had never had high blood pressure, and I was convinced that they were incorrect it was high now. Instead, the story that I told myself, is that because I was so overweight they thought that I could not complete the course and wanted to send me home.
While this is possibly true, I now look at the picture and do not see the fat girl that I saw myself as then.
I am only, very slowly, starting to see myself as a different person than the fat person I have seen my entire life. It is these distant perspectives that help me to realize this.
I also believe that by considering how time changes our perspective, we can possibly take our own views of ourselves in this moment a little less seriously. Perhaps we can stop dwelling on our own faults and accept who we are now, in this moment.
I was able to complete the mountaineering course, and it was amazing. It is also probably the hardest thing I have ever done. It was like being in the military for a month. [Okay, it’s the closest I have ever come, but I am sure it is nothing like the actual military]. We had to get up at about 3am each morning (maybe 4 or 5, but too early) for tea. Then we would march, with packs on, about 7 miles to a rock climbing site. We were all in a line and were being yelled at constantly. I quickly learned the word for ‘hurry up’ in Hindi (Jaldi).
When not hiking or climbing, we received lectures about mountaineering. Usually there was an English version I could take part in. Many students (all women) also spoke English, and some instructors, but by no means all of them.
Later in the course we did an ice climbing segment in a phenomenally gorgeous area. Then we reached the capstone which was to climb a mountain as high as we could go. We took days acclimatizing higher and higher before the final push. On the final day, there was a turnaround time, so we could only go as far as our bodies could get in that time. I made it somewhere around 17,000 feet in breathtakingly stunning country.
I did pay a price, whether from that water at the school or from elsewhere in travels, and shortly after returning home I was hospitalized from Salmonella Paratyphoid. That provided its own perspective shift.