Sharing Wisdom

In March of 2001, I trekked to Everest Base Camp with my friends Phil and Sue who were attempting to summit Mt. Everest that year. They had invited a few of their friends to join them on the 30 mile trek in and we’d assembled in Katmandu, Nepal to gather our last few supplies before flying in to the starting point of the trek.

It was on a rickshaw trip around the city, that one of my fellow trekkers that I’d just met, a 59-year-old man told me “Life begins at 40.” Given that I was only 31-years-old at the time, this particular piece of wisdom irked me. Taken literally, it implied that I should just waste the next 9 years.

Over the next few weeks as we were trekking, I found out his back story. He had been married in his early 20’s, had two kids but that marriage had broken down and he was divorced by the time he was in his mid-30’s. It was a contentious divorce and his relationship with his sons suffered.

By the time he was in his 40’s, he’d found success as a business owner, gotten remarried to a woman he adored and shaped his life to look more or less like the balance of freedom and love he’d always wanted. Hence his statement that life begins at 40.

Why is it so hard to pass wisdom from one human to another? We have to pack it up in a suitcase so that it’s portable and then the recipient needs to have some hooks to hang it on when they unpack it.

In this case, I didn’t think much about the wisdom he’d offered me until I was about to turn 40-years-old. It was a tough time in my life – I’d recently been told of my husband’s infidelities and I was struggling with the idea of failing at marriage while trying to hold it all together.

While I believe the age was just a coincidence, when I thought back to my fellow trekker’s story, it held a lot of comfort for me. Because it represented an example that life can rebuild itself even better after it’s all fallen apart. The wisdom, when I distilled it for me, was that we can have multiple chapters in our lives that still add up to a glorious story.

Isn’t that why we share our wisdom and stories? So that someone else can take them, draw strength from them when needed and they repackage them in a way that’s meaningful?

On that trip in 2001 to Everest Base Camp, after we’d been trekking for a few days, I woke up one morning a couple of hours before anyone else was up. I was so excited to be in the Himalayas, I decided to hike around to see if I could see Everest in the first light of the day. After about 40 minutes, I finally found a place to sit and watch the sunrise illuminate one of the most distinctive mountains in the world.

When I’d finally hiked back 40 minutes, everyone else was up. One of our guides said, “Does anyone want to get a first look at Everest?” and I joined the group. About a 5 minute walk from our campsite, in the opposite direction I’d gone, was a magnificent view of Everest.

Packaging up this story, I’d pass along this wisdom. “You will take some wrong turns in life, go down the wrong path and expend a lot of extra energy. But even in that case, enjoy the view, laugh about how you got there. Whether you go the short way or whether you go the long way, always look out for the presence of Wonder.”

What’s a piece of wisdom you share?

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(featured photo from my Everest trek pictures)

34 thoughts on “Sharing Wisdom

    1. You are indeed a goddess that shows us how to OWN the path!! It’s hard to imagine that there was ever a time where you didn’t. I’m so inspired by how you embrace uncertainty and adventure and jump right in. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  1. Beautiful!There is always beauty around us where ever we are, our job is to make ourselves available for it.The clouded mind sees nothing. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Hello Wynne,
    Thank you for sharing such a rich piece of writing with us. I agree: “life can rebuild itself even better after it’s all fallen apart.” I didn’t, as is said, “buy the T-shirt,” but I have apparently “been there.” 🙏

    1. I love all the wisdom quotes you included in this comment, Arthur! Brilliant! So glad you rebuilt, bought the shirt, have been there and choose to share the wisdom with us!

  3. Encouraging post Wynne.Thanks. Your Everest trek is one that has been on my Bucket List for decades . . . I’m envious!

    I once thought “Life begins at 40.” Now, nearly 40 years later, I’ve become comfortably content accepting the reality that “Life begins today”, embracing it’s wonder each new day. One of my favorite quotes to remind me of this is from Prince of the Tides . . .

    “I would like to have seen the whole world with eyes incapable of anything but wonder, and with a tongue fluent only in praise.”

    A trek to Everest base camp remains on my Bucket List, but today I’ll rejoice in a wilderness wander in the Smokies.

    1. Wow, Fred – there is so much wisdom in this comment. Thank you, as always, for sharing that with us. “Life begins today.” and “eyes incapable of anything but wonder and a tongue fluent only in praise.” Such a rich commentary on finding the joy in each moment. Which I know you do!

      And I can understand why Everest Base Camp is on your bucket list. I was lucky my friends were going and I had that opportunity. It was worth doing! Sending my best!

  4. This is so enlightening! I just turned 30 and am mentally freaking out about where my life is at and how little I’ve achieved. Thanks to your story, I feel less pressure. I particularly love what you said about being able to start a chapter at any point, and still have a glorious story in the end. Thanks for sharing this bit of wisdom!

    1. Happy birthday Tia! As someone who had a baby at age 50, I can certainly say that milestones and “what your life should look like” at any age is highly subjective! 🙂 I’m so glad to hear that you feel less pressure as I’m sure you’ll have a glorious story in the end!! Sending my best wishes!

  5. Wow! I’m speechless over just how moving this post was! I love that you shared such personal details about your life and tied the stories together beautifully. I loved “going” on the adventure with you to a place I can only imagine was incredible. My husband is a life-flight aircraft mechanic. A pilot we know use to fly rescue missions at Mount Everest to save stranded hikers. He told us numerous stories about various things that happened while rescuing others. You must be really proud to have hiked it. ❤️💪🏻

    1. Thank you, LaShelle, for such a kind comment!

      I bet your pilot friend’s stories are amazing. One of the most gripping stories I heard was when Beck Weathers who lost his nose and arm in the 1996 Everest disaster, told about being rescued by helicopter. The pilot didn’t think he could fly to 21,000 feet, the air was too thin so he took every detachable thing off the plane he could and just barely eked it over the edge. And then even though he’d come for Beck, there was another more severely injured climber standing there so Beck gave up his seat — and he thought his life. Until the pilot dared to come back one more time after he’d dropped off that other climber….

      I’m guessing you’ve heard stories like that! Fascinating!! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      1. That story sounds extremely familiar to the ones that we’ve heard from our friend! Pretty incredible. Our pilots name is HariHar and he nationality is biased in Nepal. He has some pretty crazy stories about fighting in the war between Nepal and Russia as well. I think he’s probably one of the most interesting people we have ever known as well as being a pretty great guy!

  6. Love this post! Life is lots of experiences all packaged up into one and the next chapter begins whenever you want it to. Enjoy every journey and every experience

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