LESSONS I LEARNED FROM A HIKE
A few years ago, Accra, Ghana, was the place I called home thanks to an assignment from my place of work. It’s always a little difficult to answer the question, “what was it like living in Ghana?”, but one thing that is clear to me is that it was designed to reveal to me several aspects of myself- capabilities that I didn’t know were inside of me, as well as weaknesses that needed to be addressed.
One of the things that stood out to me from the beginning was the hospitable nature of Ghanaians. Everywhere I turned, it seemed that all I heard was Akwaaba, the Twi word for “welcome”. From the officials at the airport, to my apartment building manager, to colleagues at work and the welcoming committee at church- I repeatedly heard: “Welcome to Ghana” all with a smile to go along with it.
What I absolutely loved was the daily treat of experiencing different aspects of nature without going out of my way to do so. In the east, there are a range of hills
and in the south, the coastal plain is crossed by several rivers and streams, generally navigable only by canoe. Accra is situated along the Atlantic coast, which means
that access to the beach was achievable in a matter of minutes.
For a Kenyan who could only get a feel of the sand in my feet after much planning and travelling to Mombasa, this was quite a treat. I made it my aim to experience
as much as I could while I was in Accra. One of the experiences that stood out to me was a hike to Aburi Hills in the Eastern Region. Right from the beginning, let me say that I am not the sporty type. Not in any way, shape or form. That may change depending on where and what God takes me through, but for now, this is where things stand.
E v e r y o n e starts at a d i f f e r e n t pace. Keep walking.Lorraine Onduru
However, I call out this experience as it taught me a number of important lessons that still remain with me to this day. So on one Saturday morning, I went with my friends for a hike up Aburi Hills. We got to the base of the hills and started the ascent. “This is not too bad”, I thought. We went round the first bend and the
climb started to get a bit steeper. Although it’s a tarmacked, gradual climb on the whole, there are some parts that are harder to climb than others.
Lesson Number One.
Everyone starts at a different pace. Keep walking. As we walked up the hill, some people, obviously from a misplaced sense of adventure (only explanation that makes
sense to me), started running and even cycling up the hill. For someone starting at snail’s pace, this can seem a little intimidating. That must mean that they will
reach their destination faster than me, right? Wrong. What gets you to your destination is the stuff you’re made up of on the inside, and where you draw your strength. Are you trying to prove a point to people in your life? Are you trying to get people to acknowledge and congratulate you? All this is great, but will trip you up and keep you from getting to the desired finish line on time.
Lesson Number Two.
For your own sake, live a little! It’s good to work hard at achieving your goals. It’s even better to approach your life with a sense of determination to beat all obstacles. But take brief stops along the journey. Enjoy your life. Every day. As I stood there taking in the moment, I took in the serenity and beauty of the place. I also looked behind me and saw how far I had come, which motivated me to keep going. God
has brought me from a long way. I stop now to thank Him and keep moving one (sometimes tired and frustrated) step at a time. We continued steadily moving up
the hill. We were almost there! On the opposite side, there were some other hikers that were on their way down. Lucky them! They were now enjoying the easier descent to the base of the hill.
Lesson Number Three.
You will get to your desired end. Even when it seems like everyone else is beating you to the finish line. Have you ever wondered what happened to your life? Sometimes when we take our focus off of God and fix it on other people and the success they seem to be effortlessly achieving, it’s easy to feel left behind. We need to understand the purpose of the season God has us in and be as fruitful in it as possible. If you trust God with your life, as your Shepherd, then He will lead you
into His best for you. “The race is not to the swift, or the battle to the strong, Nor does food come to the wise, or wealth to the brilliant Or favor to the learned,
But time and chance happen to them all”- Ecclesiastes 9:11
So an hour later, we got to the top of the hill. Yay! For someone who does a shameful amount of exercise, I was really proud of myself… We stretched our aching limbs (at least mine were) and after a few minutes started the climb down.
My companions decided to start jogging back down the hill. I had every intention of joining them, except, my body refused to cooperate. So I walked down at my own pace and took breaks as I deemed appropriate. (Read: every 15 minutes).
As I walked down, I remember this random guy stopped next to me and told me to try and jog a little bit. Apparently it’s good for me.
During one of my breaks, a few other guys told me not to give up. I was almost there, they assured me.
Take time to thank the cheerleaders in your life. This whole hike was quite the experience. I learned that I need to get some sort of fitness regimen going! But I also
appreciated the fact that some people are in your life to help you get to the next level. They believe in you, motivate you, support you, tell you the truth and are just in
your corner through it all. Thank God for them and then show them you appreciate them. Because sometimes life can be a little scary especially when you start a new journey or encounter diverse difficulties. What makes those challenging moments a little more bearable is knowing you have a support system.
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Lorraine is a Kenyan creative writer living and working in Nairobi. She is passionate about giving an accurate context to her environment, through fiction, poetry or fact.