Well first let us define what a sherpa is. My favorite definition is from the online Urban Dictionary where a sherpa is described as:
“An experienced guide helping others on a mountain climbing expedition. Edmund Hillary – first person to climb Mt. Everest. Tenzing Norgay – Sherpa that helped him”
Now allow me to form my definition. I began using my version of the term after a friend shared a story of a trip she and her husband took to Nepal. To summarize they were pretty unqualified to make the hike they started. She knew immediately they were out of their league (you can call that women’s intuition or just being realistic). He, on the other hand, insisted they continue (you can call that pig headed or just plain competitive ego). They eventually found themselves in the middle of nowhere, exhausted, weak and having trouble breathing. She was in her head “count 10 steps, take a break, count 10 steps, take a break” and would only allow herself to look up when he announced a milestone had been reached. Each time she would look up long enough to realize, although they reached a milestone, there was yet another incline before them. She thought they were going to die on the side of that mountain. And then… out of the blue… a man appeared. He offered to take their packs and guide them to their destination. They accepted gratefully.
There are two morals to her story (there are others but these are the two that apply to my definition of a sherpa):
- Do not take on more than what is right in front of you. Thinking too much about the future takes you out of the here and now. And it is the here and now that matters.
- Let people help you. It does not signify weakness.
Just as suddenly as her sherpa appeared out of the midst of the mountains of Nepal; I realized, out of the blue, I had sherpas all around me guiding me up the mountain I found myself climbing. One sherpa, my husband Andrew, was right beside me the whole way, loyal, caring, a supportive rock carrying not only his own “pack” but also mine. My family dropping everything to be by our side. Others were sending notes to Andrew and I full of love and support. Taking Kyle and Brad to school, activities and play dates. Leaving their family to fly to (freezing cold) Minnesota to be with us. They were bringing meals and making smoothies and stealing into their place of work to make 12 fresh pizzas for the crowd at our house. Each and every one of these sherpa angels lightened my load, picked me up, brushed me off and pushed me forward so that I too could begin counting my steps and power on.
That was 2002. Since that time I pray that I do not take for granted the sherpas in my life. I know that I am blessed to have so many sherpas surrounding me who lift me up, support me, nudge me on, inspire me, lighten my load, pick me up, brush me off and move me forward. I know there have been times, sometimes too often, that I let life’s business get the better of me and it may seem like these relationships, friendships, and loves of my life were taken for granted. No. From the bottom of my heart I am so very grateful. These human connections are what propels me forward even when I feel like I am falling back.
So who are your sherpas? Who is lightening your load and helping you up your mountains? Take a moment to send them a silent blessing thanking them for their compassion and love. Take it a step further and write them a note to make sure they know how grateful you are for their presence in your life. Its just what sherpas do, right?