I've realized in the past few months that when you work primarily from home, this is basically impossible. Thus, the best way to accomplish this so-called "un-plugging" is to get my ass outside and into an environment where the digital world is wholly inaccessible. And while I'm at it, I figured why not throw in some potentially life threatening rock climbing to really drive the point home? Yes, I fully acknowledge this is a sad thing to have to manipulate yourself into relaxing, but so it goes. And I have to tell you, it works quite well. There's nothing like plopping yourself in the middle of nature to remember how insignificant most of our troubles are -- in a good way, not in a depressing "nothing matters so what's the point" type of way.
As I was looking for the next way to unplug, I was sifting through Hong Kong's many fun outdoor excursions and I came across this hiking blog which recommended a hike to Wang Chung stream (橫涌石澗). There were several warning signs that this would be a new flavor of adventure, all of which I failed to notice. My ability to read quickly sometimes results in a compromise on the comprehension of the details. For example:
- I should have noticed that Waterfalls was a separate category on his blog. He refers to it as "stream trekking" which is "more challenging than regular hiking".
- I did read the note that said "Do not attempt to climb directly into the larger falls. People did lose [sic] their lives there." I thought, 'Um I'm not a fucking idiot... who walks directly into a large waterfall and tries to climb up it. We'll be fine!'
- The directions begin with, "Take the steps down right by the sign that tells you not to enter."
- Next, he says, "You will walk along the stream for a few meters then enter the stream proper."
Anyway, hindsight is 20/20, but I'm glad I didn't fully process the potential danger of the situation
There were several moments where we were tempted to just explore on our own instead of continuing to find this guy's directions, but ultimately we both opted to minimize the unknown and look for the beginning of the path. Once we found the entrance he described (after a lot of debate and probably an hour of back and forth), we ventured down the steps and saw the falls and thought, "This can't be right. There's no path." We turned back, debated some more, and decided that indeed that was the correct entrance so it must be right. Maybe we just missed the path. This is when we realized that the directions actually did say, "Enter the stream proper." And so it began.
|We thought this was the top.|
Although there were a few points where I looked down and said, "What the hell am I doing?" or "If my parents knew what I was doing right now, they'd kill me," I was generally pretty uninhibited by the task at hand. It brought me back to the hours we used to spend as kids playing "hot lava" where you couldn't touch the ground. It was so fun and carefree, hopping from rock to rock, trying to devise the most efficient and least life threatening way to climb higher. No tactics or strategies were off limits; there was crawling, scaling, pouncing, grabbing onto moss-covered branches, using your arms to hang on as you swung between slightly too distant stones. There wasn't a "right way" to get from one point or another. It was about doing whatever worked to keep moving forward and upward.
|But actually, that's the top.|
We obviously decided this was the end of the line for us, so we stopped for a minute for some water and to soak in the epic atmosphere. Though my boyfriend had no problem relishing in the experience, after a few short minutes and a couple photos (included here), our little adventure finally caught up with me and my sense of self preservation kicked in. How had we come this far, and how were we going to get down? What if it starts raining? Those clouds look dark, it would be better if we started our descent immediately. Yes, the falls were great, but they were also scary and it was time to go. My boyfriend wanted to relax for a few minutes, but I couldn't be convinced. I went ahead and started the descent.
|OK that was fun, can we go down now?|
To take the analogy further, I am truly enjoying the experience of living abroad, of establishing a new business in a foreign place, of navigating the challenges that come along with it. Though I have a vague idea and a motivating vision of what "ultimate success" would look like here, the fun part is figuring out how to get there. I don't think "success" would necessarily make me any happier than I am now. If anything, the pressure of that sort of "achievement" would ruin any corresponding sense of enjoyment. In some ways, I have already fallen victim to this, as I don't think I have paused to properly acknowledge or celebrate even the little milestones I've reached in the past six months. Sure, after each accomplishment there was a brief moment of relief, but then came the subsequent flood of new goals, concerns, and problems that were suddenly within reach.
Part of this lack of pause is simply my personal drive to "achieve", but perhaps another part of it is a bit of the "impostor syndrome" -- not believing I deserve my own success, but that I have merely tricked the world into thinking I am capable and as a result of my deception, I have accidentally landed in a good place. So, I better keep going, keep taking things to the next level before anyone figures out that I'm not actually good enough to have done all this.
Whatever the reason, my new goal is to change this mentality (though I'm still a bit unclear on how) and try to step back once in awhile and feel good about what I've accomplished. Enjoying the journey shouldn't mean the destination can't be great, too.