Last night, I attended the European Outdoor Film Festival. And honestly, I got one of my most inspiring moments since a long time. For a very long time, I didn’t have those moments of goosebumps or adrenaline kicking in.
Weird you would think? I don’t think so. While traveling for almost 8 months in North-, Central- & South-America & Hawaii every day was a day full of moments of goosebumps from head to toe, being swept of my feet and adrenaline kicking in. Because every time I didn’t think and just did. Because traveling to me was all about taking risks and living life to the fullest because now is the moment! And as you’re always on the move, tomorrow is too late.
To make it clear what point I want to make I want to tell you a little anekdote. It is one about the many bad things but good things at the same time, which happened to me. While hiking in Colombia in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, I almost cut off the top of my thumb while being at 2300 m altitude. Knowing that the day before I burned my leg very badly on a motorbike, which caused a lot of pain, I still decided to hike up to 2700 m to reach the top. Being in pain in both my leg and my thumb, thoughts of going back to the village and going to the hospital arose every now and then. But giving up was not even an option because I knew what was waiting at the top would make everything better.
And it was! I forgot about the pain. While descending I fell over some rocks and opened my thumb even more. The pain was killing but it also made me feel so powerful! Because before I thought I already reached my limits but clearly I could handle worse. I realised my body was much more stronger than I thought. And so was my mind.
Pun of the story. Now I am back in Belgium. Routine. You know, this always busy society working for the dream of others.. Not being as crazy as before easily making impulsive decisions. Thoughts that arise sometimes block me from doing the things I want. And I feel a lot of decisions I need to make, small or big, are leaving me anxious. Sometimes you fight but sometimes you also give up. As before I would go the extra mile before giving up. That power which I had when being on that mountain top in Colombia and while facing situations during those 8 months is hidden in a little chamber, locked inside my body, ready to come out again.
Now yesterday feels like the key to that locked chamber.
Watching Adam Ondra, the most successful Czech sport climber of our time. He successfully climbed the most difficult route in the world and established a new level of difficulty, 9c. His physical endurance and surely his mental strength and peace of mind made me quiet. It was so jaw dropping that it brought back my believe that everything is possible. He also empowers the importance of meditation and stillness and being detached from your body. Sometimes the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of success is what’s going on inside of our heads. A mind that is not under control is a mind that makes mistakes – mistakes that could prevent you from winning.
And then there was this other legend The Frenchy For Jacques Houot, spoken as HOE-O, nothing in life is a problem. This 82 year old and always smiling guy -which is addictive – believes every time you smile, an hour is added to your life. Nothing is too much at his age. 23 times is the number he almost lost his life and he still moves mountains. No mountain bike trail and no ski slope is safe because he still does it all with ‘no problem’ as he always says himself. He reminds me I shouldn’t take life too seriously. Just laugh at life and everything gets better. They say you only have one life but he surely has 23, so stop hesitating to take risks! You will fall but that’s necessary to rise higher than before. You are only as young as you are in your head so go out and do whatever the fuck you want.
‘Mbuzi Dume’ Swahili for ‘strong goat’ aka Tom Belz. Strong doesn’t even come close to how I would describe this incredibly brave man! Tom’s left leg was amputated when he was just eight years old because of bone cancer. Since then, he goes through life on 3 legs—on one leg and two crutches.
Ever since he tested the power and the challenges of his body. While climbing the Kilimanjaro, he faces the challenges in life that everyone must surmount. I learned you are physically AND mentally stronger than you think whatever battle you are fighting in that moment. You can will yourself to keep going when your body grows fatigued. Your brain and body are like a circle. One connection. As long as you can set your mind in the right mindset, your body will follow. Like Mahatma Gandhi says: “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
After seeing all the other documentaries I realised everyone can do amazing things when they choose to be strong. We all have a survivor-instinct. We have all had our share of battles and wounds resulting we sometimes questioned if we could lift ourselves back up again.
But because of the struggles we’ve endured we’ve learned to bounce back and stand up even stronger, wiser and even braver. The mind and body is stronger than you think. YOU are stronger than you think.
Today, if you question what you can change, handle, or overcome to achieve your dreams and goals, I think we should just remember that you can do amazing things when you decide to be strong.