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Trading Wheelchair for Backpack (Peru 3)

Yesterday I was still able to gaze at the mountain panorama with its snow-covered peaks from inside my warm down jacket. Today, change of scenery: On the second day of our trekking tour we arrive at our accommodation in the middle of dense rainforest. I immerse myself in the endless green, but on day three I realize that I am experiencing a mental downward spiral. For the first time it is getting really tough on me. To my surprise: Hiking through rain forest at a height of 2,700 meters means hiking in the rain for the entire day.

Wild and free

Why on earth do I always do such crazy things? Do I need these extreme experiences to feel in what areas I still can "outgrow" myself? In everyday life I love structure and the latest technologies. I even drive a digitally networked smart electric wheelchair. On the other hand, I don't want to be restricted in any way. I want to be wild and free like the rampant rainforest.

As a motivational speaker, when I talk about "pushing boundaries", is it not necessary for me to experience this phenomenon myself time and again – preferably voluntarily?

Mission possible

Against expectation, getting rocked through the cold and damp rainforest for hours has freed my mind. Like the fog that lifts at the end of our day trip I see my mission clearly in front of me. I want to point out to people the possibilities they have to push their own boundaries: I'm not saying everybody should go hiking, but everybody should create experiences that are unforgettable. Experiences that encourage you to reflect and feel, to curiously explore your own existence and creatively deal with environmental influences.

How does courage arise? We always say, "Face your fears!". I, for example, have been suffering from extreme vertigo since I was a child. And then: 4,600 metres above sea level. Did you notice?

With a little help from my friends

After all, the best comes last. In this case it comes to overcoming my fear of heights in the form of a self-imposed radical therapy. At this point I can only recommend zip lining in the jungle, hundreds of meters above the precipice. Seriously: I was terrified – for almost a kilometre. Let me add here that, for safety-related reasons, in the beginning it was totally unsure whether I was allowed to "fly" at all.

For a long time, we worked together on a solution to properly secure me. In the end we laced my body in a type of climbing harness. The fact that the tour operator gave me his full support in my effort to live this extreme experience was incredibly helpful. Thus, after a short testing distance of 5 meters in his office I finally crossed a total of seven zip lines hanging on the rope in a tandem. The tandem enabled me to sit upright and use the brakes by myself.

To defeat your worst enemy – the fear of heights in my case – triggers a feeling of unbelievable happiness. What an adrenaline rush! Hours later I was still totally dazzled.

At the peak of emotions

If I just felt as if I was born again, now I am feeling like an old soul. We made it, I am standing at Machu Picchu. One of the most mysterious stories of human civilization is lifting slowly in the mystical mist. This place, what was it? A high culture's place of worship? A heavily guarded shrine of the Incas who cultivated this rough land in such a wise way? A sublime feeling is creeping upon me. On me, the just about a meter-tall Janis. Life is a great challenge.


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© 2024 Janis McDavid