…A faithful friend is a strong defence,
A faithful friend is the medicine of life…
23rd September 2017. I joined my friend Eric on his 4th Journey up Mt. Longonot. I had promised myself severally how I needed to do this, my own Bucket List activity off the chart. But then there is this friend who has traveled with me in many journeys of life. He has known my downs and my ups, my frustrations and my achievements, my laughter, my celebrations, the toast moments and the lets keep it under the table moments. Eric. He lost his sight sometime back. Every year, through the Kenya Society of the Blind annual Longonot climb, ever since he lost his sight, he goes up the Longonot. This year, I decided to do this with him, as a thank you for the journeys he has traveled with me. The climb attracted quite a gathering. It was flagged off at the entrance to the park and up we went, a step at a time, one meter after another. As much as it was a check off my bucket list, it was a great learning experience especially on friendships. I learnt, on that climb that friendships presents itself in many faces. I will just highlight a few…
The fall back:-
The climbers were from several representations. We called ourselves TEAM ERIC. It was a group of Eric, his parents, his neighbour, a gentleman nicknamed Governor, Muthenya and myself. When we started the climb, everyone was all energetic. We had a pacesetter, and the rest of us trooped behind him or her. But as we went up, the energy levels went low. By the time we got to rest post 1, Eric was a bit dizzy. We all took a break. Muthenya snacked all of us. We took out water. And we waited for Eric to get better. How many times do we feel drained in this life we keep walking? How many of us can always look out for that one person who will be there for us at such low moments, when we know that no matter our lows, someone will stand and wait for us to rethink, refocus, gain back the energy. Someone will give us that boost of energy. That word that will let us know, it is okay to feel weak, it is okay when we don’t have the energy to move on, it is okay to take a break, it is okay to be weak, it is okay to need a shoulder to lean on. All this is a phase of life. And it will pass. We will not be weak forever, we will rise and conquer the rest of the mountain.
The bounce back/motivator:-
After the rest, we continued our climb. We got to the first summit-Crater point. Here one can appreciate the distance traveled. You can see base down below. You can see the crater. Very beautiful. There is a group of people taking rest after the torturous climb. Some who arrived way earlier have already started their descent, others have started going round the crater. We take a breather, a few photos. Then we have to decide whether we are going round or not. Eric’s parents decide not to. Muthenya and Governor are already decided, they are going round. The set off. Eric is undecided. It’s a whole 7.2Km walk. I challenge him. He hesitates. Eventually he falls for the temptation. We set off too. We call the other two to wait up. Another climb to summit 2 begins, Team Eric now a smaller group. Off we go, one step at a time. It is more challenging than the firs climb, but eventually, after a little crawling and falling, a little slipping and trudging, silence and small talks, we get to KILELE NGAMIA. Wohoo! We all need that friend to challenge us to the next level. That friend who realizes our potential even when we don’t know we have it. That person who reminds us that our limit is only our own selves. We can finish the climb together. We shall travel it together. When you lack the energy, you can lean on me, but climbing we must. I remembered the many climbers we passed on. Literally holding on to others to take the next height, the “keep on going” voices behind them, those who gave up but with their team members were kept on their feet. Who with all this motivation got to the top, whichever summit.
The energy sucker:-
While the motivator challenges us to achieve new heights, this one is the exact opposite. This friends will drain all the energy left in you. Whatever little. They will tell you how much you cannot make in life. How much you don’t have the energy to finish. How untalented you are, how unfit, how feeble, how much a loser you are. I do not know if they are friends or “friends”. Whichever the case, they have a way of making life all doom and gloom. I may not have a perfect example from the climb, but it occurred to me that there are those who probably did not make it to the top because of that voice. Sometimes this voice is our own selves. We tell our selves how much we have not exercised, so we cannot finish the climb. How much unprepared we are for the interview, how many people have failed in life and it won’t be no different, how hard the task is and it should be performed by someone better than ourselves. We kill our own innovation, we drain our own strength. We kill our own self-belief.
I have learnt that when something happens to us, there are those friends who will be called to answer on our behalf. It is good to have them because they know the real us. They can always speak on our behalf. They can say when we are afraid, they can say when we are being foolish, they can tell when we are falling off the road and going in a tangent of our desired positions. They are the other us. They are our voice when we have none. They can loudly tell one who is trying to make us look bad, “Whatever you say, I dont believe you, because I know her…”. They know that when we fall, we can count on them to lift us up and not laugh and jeer when everyone else is. They know that when my feet refuse o move that one step, its probably because I have a boil in the thigh or a blister on my toe. They don’t judge, they want to know the reason why. They can even explain that why we we do not have the reason.
One thing that has stayed in my mind is this group of two boys, both visually impaired, they passed us in the ascend to the first summit, stumbling, trudging but holding each other up. I think one was partially blind or both were, I do not know, but the determination in their faces and the arms they kept around each other spoke volumes. They passed us the second time just before we got to the second summit. When they did, we cheered them on. They really inspired me. There are those friends who literally walk with us in this wake of life. They stumble when we stumble, they rise when we rise, they laugh with us, they cry with us, they celebrate with us, and they struggle with us in our daily endeavors. They do not necessarily do what we do, they are not necessarily present, but they share in our every moments.
While we all know that faithful friends are hard to come by, while we also appreciate that some friends are multi faced in our lives, we live to thank God because, we have a defense to always lean on, depend on, look up to, and are always nourished in by their presence. A faithful friend is the medicine for life.