The title says it all. 24 seconds of pure joy and inspiration at Annapurna Base Camp, 4k meters above sea level. We had trekked for five days to reach this point, and all we could do was DANCE.
I went to Nepal largely inspired by the spirit of my late adventure role model, Dan Fredinburg. Dan was a fellow Googler who exuded warmth and joy and attempted to climb Everest, twice. On his second adventure, he passed away at Base Camp in the 2015 earthquake. I didn't know Dan very well - we had only spoken a couple of times - but I was always inspired by his adventure badassery. I also had a crush on him. I think everyone did.
Dan's life and death were pivotal in my decision to completely change my own life. He was one of the first examples, to me, that living life in pursuit of adventure and joy is a completely valid and valiant life's purpose.
So I went to Nepal this past November and spent the first ten days trekking up and down the Annapurna mountain range. I'm not quite as badass as Dan - my ascent did not include wielding an ice pick. But I did survive the upper altitudes and squat toilets with a wicked bout of bacterial poisoning, so, almost as cool, right? Up at Base Camp, I felt my soul glitter at my accomplishment and the gratitude for being alive and able-bodied enough to ascend a mountain. After the trek, my travelmate and I volunteered at a community school for a few weeks in a neighborhood outside Kathmandu that had been ravaged by the earthquake.
We had our own adventures: racing the sherpas on the trek up, teaching the Nepalese kids duck duck goose (among the highlights), bringing chocolate and songs to the orphanage, and taking the first class photos in the history of Sirutar Community School.
Dan's life was an example of living like you might die tomorrow, but in some ways I learned more through his death. In the beginning I would ask myself why would someone electively put themselves in such a dangerous situation? I eventually realized that had he not climbed mountains, he would not have lived. To answer a Soul Call, to do a Meaningful Thing is, simply, to live, and it is anything but reckless. Dreams like those are considered, calculated and the few of us who do not become decision paralyzed by our dreams get to experience the feeling of life alive and awake.
It is a question you must ask yourself and only you can answer: risk living shorter but fuller, or (maybe) live longer and risk regret? Like Dan, I choose adventure.
One doesn't need to risk death to feel alive. Being alive is letting curiosity, wonder, and joy steer your life instead of fear. Finding the motivation to do Meaningful Things isn't always easy, but in my experience, you can trick yourself by remembering that you could be dead today, tomorrow, next week. I have found it to be the most effective way to remove fear-based 'no' from your head and replace it with a more urgent, 'why not?' You have no time to hem and haw. You must act now for you know not whether you will have the opportunity tomorrow. Death does not stand by for you to get around to living a meaningful life.
So I implore you to dance, to shake the dust off, to open yourself up to love and the overwhelming beauty in the world. Do something small, do something grand -- just do something that makes you feel alive. Adventure awaits. Always say yes.
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