tarak X love

They call it revenge climb. It’s when you go back to a mountain that broke you physically and emotionally the first time to successfully conquer it with a better version of yourself. Actually, I wasn’t planning on doing it because I don’t like holding grudges, especially towards something inanimate. But then, what’s bound to happen will eventually happen. haha!

I haven’t climbed that many but Tarak Ridge is easily one place I am not very keen on returning to. I remember when we were told that it would be our next climb, my heart skipped a bit. The first time, I only had my backpack with me, it weighed less than 5 kilos and I already cursed everything. How much more if I’m carrying 8 liters of water and cooking equipment which has a combined weight of more or less 10  kilos?20150301_162513Except for being stuck in traffic on our way to Bataan, being a few hours behind our itinerary and changing our planned overnight trip to a day climb (which I am very thankful for because we left the camping gears at the Barangay Hall), the climb was pretty uneventful.

20150301_064123Unlike my first climb, the trail wasn’t muddy! My shoes weren’t slippery! I am able to cope with my mates’ pace! The temperature at the top was cold but bearable! I had significantly less bruises (or none at all)! My fear of mountain sliding again was uncalled for! Most of all, there was a clearing!

20150301_102002 20150301_102153 20150301_103334More than anything though, this climb taught me something about brotherhood (or sisterhood or whatever) and love.

I wanted to join this mountaineering organization. Honestly, I was in it for the fun and nice pictures to post on social media (shallow, I know) and experience. Apparently, I didn’t know what I was going into.

You see, climbing mountains can be pretty dangerous. You can say there are a lot of easy trails out there for “fun” hiking but you can never be sure because nature is crazy! What if it suddenly rained really hard and all of you drowned to death? Too morbid but what I’m saying is, it can happen. And this org that I’m eyeing is pretty serious about these kind of things, arguably being the only one in the country without a serious casualty in its 25+ years of existence. The mantra: better safe than sorry!

My previous akyats were with freelancers (friends of friends of friends) which is the definition of chill. Then I suddenly found myself being required to bring a certain number of liters of water (which increases in time), following a strict schedule (not enough time for selfies!), and being ordered around (from picking up trash to washing the dishes). I’m not complaining though, because they’re all allegedly part of training.

What made me uncomfortable though, was the rule that we had to stick together at ALL times. I was used to hiking at my own pace. In the groups I joined before, if you’re fast, then you go on ahead. I you’re slow then we’ll see you later. No hard feelings. This time we were required to wait for one another, no matter how fast or slow. And the weakest is always in front of the line. Hence, due to one member, we had to stop every couple of minutes. And if you’ve experienced climbing mountains, you know it’s harder and more tiring if you always stop.

Bottom line is, I found myself letting the person in front of me go first, waiting for the distance between us to be considerably huge, then jogging and closing it in. Then I’d wait and do it again. I didn’t talk to her. Didn’t help her in any way aside from carrying her water. I was growing impatient by the minute because my legs and back were already sore and I wanted to get over Tarak as soon as possible.

During our post climb meeting, I was called out for this behavior. At first I was irritated. Why me? It wasn’t my fault that she was slow. She should have pushed herself to not be a burden. I know because I myself hate dragging others. If I know I’m causing everyone to slow down, then I tell them to leave me behind. I have always been like this. I don’t like making people wait for me.

And then it was explained to us. The weakest should be in front because it’s easier to push someone forward than to pull him from behind. And we are required to bring really heavy backpacks to train our bodies to carry an injured person. The cardinal rule was, “we went up together, we’ll go down together”. No one will be left behind. You will be confident that your friend, no matter what happens, will not turn his back on you. It sounds chivalrous and a bit corny but I sensed that it was backed by experience.

While listening to this, a verse came to mind, “Above all, love each other deeply…” (1 Peter 4:8). Jesus has called me to love but I did the opposite. I was only thinking of the pain on my legs without realizing that the person in front of me might be suffering from something worse. I’m not supposed to love only those people who I choose to but every single person. On my own, it’s a really hard (impossible, even!) task because a lot of people are unlovable. Then grace reminded me that I myself am unlovable, yet I am loved.

I’m not saying that I will magically start being the epitome of love. After all, I am just human. What I hope and pray is for me to always be reminded of this especially when I find myself about to do (or not do) something other than an act of love towards my neighbor. I will fail over and over and over for sure. But what matters is not giving up!

4Two questions worth asking ourselves are:

WWJD (What would Jesus do)? or

WIDITSIL (Would I do it to someone I love)?

Dear Tarak, I finally conquered you! Now what I need is for love to conquer me.

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