Why rise up?


What’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way. — Erik Weihenmayer

I once saw a meme that read:
Forget Everything And Run or
Face Everything And Rise.

I was ready to rise. But was the camel?

Morocco — The highlight of the trip was a camel ride into the desert for an overnight camping excursion. This sounded delightful. I love sleeping outdoors. The more primitive and remote the better. Gazing at the starry night sky, dazzled by every color of the morning sky as the sun rises. Relishing in the restorative power of spending an entire evening breathing deep lungfuls of fresh air. Plus bragging rights for spending the night in the Sahara, duh.

I was excited. And deeply terrified. Not of creepy, crawly desert critters, nor the potential for a windstorm. Not of the camel’s reputation for spitting, biting, or violently trying to eject riders from the saddle. My fear was basic – would the camel hold me?

For most travelers, such thoughts never cross their mind. They simply show up to go dog sledding or zip lining without worrying about a weight limit. They slip into gear like wetsuits or boots without a thought that it won’t fit.

My reality is different. I think about these things. Sometimes my worries are unfounded. Sometimes they are not. In this case, I had contacted the travel company (G Adventures- love them!) to tell them my situation and inquire about the camel’s weight limit. They responded with the number, which to my relief was a comfortable distance from what I needed it to be.

We arrived at the edge of the desert to the resort where we would store our luggage. I prepared my backpack for our overnight, then stood on the deck overlooking the desert. Try as I might to simply absorb the surreal orange landscape around me, I couldn’t help but notice that the camels resting nearby seemed scrawny, lazy and irritated. Any previous assurances I had received that this would be ok seemed dubious. I silently cursed the travel agent for lying to me and braced myself for the humiliating moment I was certain would follow.

The camels were lying (sitting?) and tied together. Our guides loaded us onto them from the back of the line to the front. I was in the lead camel which meant I was the last to get on. Everyone else was already on their camel waiting for me to get underway. I got on the saddle without much trouble and applied a death grip to the t-shaped handle in front of me. Every other camel had sprung up to a standing position at the guide’s command. Would mine?

I heard the guide give the command, and nothing happened. Oh my god it’s really happening, this camel is refusing to get up and carry me! Blood rushed to my face, my heart pounding. I winced, closing my eyes, not wanting to face what was happening.

Then the ground beneath me shook. I gripped the bar even tighter and opened my eyes to find myself 10 feet off the ground. The camel was standing! What felt to me like an eternity was probably all of a 3 second delay.

I’ll tell you more about the amazing desert adventure another day. For this first post I wanted to share a story about my own fears while traveling. We all have them. Yours may be similar to mine, or they may be different. I’m writing this blog to validate that fear is real, and often times amplified during travel. We’re out of our comfort zone, around new people, new customs. It doesn’t do us any good to stuff it down and ignore it. We need to acknowledge it, not judge ourselves for it, and make the best of whatever outcome results. The benefits are worth the terror.

Simply put, we need to RISE UP AND TRAVEL.

What inspires you to travel? What holds you back?

Me and my camel. I named him Penguin.
View from the lead camel
Sunset in the Sahara
Waking up before sunrise

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