My New Year Resolutions Inspired By Mont. Kinabalu

I have always wanted to climb a mountain. I have always wanted to walk alongside the clouds, and jump over the rainbow. I hold on to a belief that if a thought comes up to your mind, it excites you, and it passes your first sanity check, then you should act upon it immediately. Otherwise, that idea would fade out and erode with time. I contacted a mountain climbing agency to help me bring my idea to life. Within 4 days, I booked a flight ticket to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia’s Sabah state, to climb the Kinabalu Mountain, the highest peak in Malaysia. I arrived around midnight, got an uber drive from the airport and headed to a village near the mountain camp, where the climbing group will commence the trip in the morning.

In the morning, I put on my climbing gear and layers of clothes. It was sunny but cold. The feeling of the fresh and cold morning air filling my lungs got me singing:

“All those simple thoughts all those peaceful dreams
Share the space with a hard-worked day
But it’s the little things, not expectations
That make life worth living,
The sun is shining, shining down
Glory, Hallelujah
I’m alive
And I’m feeling, feeling fine……”

I arrived at the camp where the group was gathering to start the trip, and I was introduced to my guide and other group members. As we were ascending and chatting, my brain started sending me messages that it can’t manage to exhaust its energy on talking while it’s too busy processing the shock of this unfamiliar type of workout. The sceneries nonetheless, were priceless, and the peculiar fragrance of the mountain plants carried by the wind and clouds made me fall in a state of ecstasy and overcome my exhaustion.

One of my group members was a senior man around 60 years old. I remember first seeing him at the beginning of the trail before surpassing him and rushing forward. Few hours in, and my senior friend skips me with his small, slow, and steady steps, while I was hardly catching my breath sideway.

We arrived at the basecamp at sunset to sleep and recharge before resuming the ascend at 2 after midnight. The higher in altitude we ascend, the steeper the volcanic mountain gets with its slippery ground. We were hardly maneuvering the strong wind and darkness, aided by robes, head torches, and windbreakers.

On my way up near the summit, I stopped in a spot away from the group and switched off my torch. I remained motionless there for a while trying to decipher the words that the wind was trying to convey. I looked up to the sky to see the mesmerizing baseball-sized stars. I stood there so quiet with a firm step. My mind was out of words, yet my soul was in the midst of a full conversation with the universe, praising its creator. I felt so humbled by the magnificence of Mount. Kinabalu underneath me, and so small among the vast number of stars and galaxies above me.

We reached the summit near the down and watched the sunset from an altitude of 4,096m above sea level, but my feeling of triumph was even higher than that. I wrapped up my feeling of triumph and victory and started to descend. A few hours in and the feeling of exhaustion started taking over. A strong rainstorm hit us that the trails turned into streams, and it’s now even harder to maintain my pace on the slippery ground. I can’t remember the number of times my mind reached the point of “that’s my limit, I can’t go a single step further”, but since I giving-up wasn’t an option for me, I had to repeatedly lie to him with “let’s keep going for just another 5 minutes, after that, we’ll call for help”. I reached the finishing point of the trail, never called for help, and I myself couldn’t believe that I had successfully made it!!

My 2020 new year resolutions inspired by that trip:

  • To finish the things that I have already started: While celebrating small victories like reaching the summit of Mount. Kinabalu is important for the morale, the final victory of successfully completing the trip was what truly counts.
  • To maintain my mental toughness and spiritual wellbeing: my physical preparation wouldn’t have let me succeed at finishing my climb, had my spirit and mind weren’t in complete support.
  • To enjoy and appreciate the blessings that every minute caries: The sceneries that I had repeatedly stopped for, the friends that I had made, and the spiritual moments that I had, were far more memorable than reaching the summit of Kinabalu.
  • Pushing forward towards my goals until I reach my limit: I thought I had reached my limit of exhaustion on the trail several times. Now I don’t even know if my “limit” does even exist.
  • To be humble and realize how insignificant I’m in relation to the magnificence of the vast universe that I coexist with: “do not walk haughtily in the land, for you cannot (thus) rend the earth asunder, nor can you match the mountains in height.”- The Qur’an.

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