As human beings put upon by gravity’s wrinkle-inducing force every day of our lives, I think we are born with the inclination to resist it. Sure, most people aren’t dreaming about a day when the physics lessons tying us to the Earth suddenly lift, but occasionally the prospect of opposing gravity captures the spirit of the adventurous.
When one Make-A-Wish volunteer considered how he could best raise money for the cause he cared so much about, he thought to combine his love for hiking with fundraising. Steve Cook will climb Ama Deblam in Nepal to raise at least $30,000 for children with life-threatening illnesses. He’ll face frigid temperatures and a white-peaked mountain with elevations reaching over 22,000 feet. To get to Nepal, he’ll travel 7,000 miles to journey into the unknown and test the limits of his physical condition.
Climbing isn’t just about the ascent though, it’s also about the return journey. I recently re-read J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved “The Hobbit” for a class, and find it’s alternate title, “There and Back Again” illuminates much of the significance of Steve’s climb in Nepal. The fantastical children’s book tells the story of a hobbit who gains purpose and strength, not from defeating the dragon in the end, but from leaving his comfort zone and then returning with a new perspective on the world.
It’s a theme common to story-telling and I think it shows up in real-life more often than not. We leave the familiarity and reassurance of our surroundings because to stay would be to ossify, to become stale, uninspired and immune to change. We leave in order to see what we are made of, to better understand the boundaries of our abilities and then surpass them.
Though Cook is able to test his physical limitations and return from his journey, he does so to bring joy and empowerment to children whose conditions force them to engage in an equally as impressive "climb." Cook will return not only having summited Ama Deblam, but with the knowledge that he has brought just a little more happiness to children whose wishes can be granted.
Make-A-Wish volunteers are always finding new and inspiring ways to raise money for wish kids. They are defined by their determination, persistence, and willingness to think “outside of the box.”