The other day I had the incredible great good fortune to meet Apa Sherpa. He was the guest of one of our friends here in St. Augustine, FL where we live. Ordinarily you would only hear about this remarkable individual if you were in Mt. Everest-climbing mode. But I, afraid of heights (my biggest phobia, that’s the truth!) met him at a casual potluck dinner in the flattest place of all — right next to the sea, here in my own lovely hometown.
Apa is the most humble, good-humored and enthusiastic person, one who shines his passion for what he’s done his entire life — facilitating others to achieve their goal of climbing the world’s highest mountain, the formidable Mount Everest. Apa has climbed it a world-record 21 times to the summit. Like all his fellow sherpas, all practicing Buddhists from Nepal, Apa carried a photo of the Dalai Lama to leave atop the summit, in esteemed honor of his spiritual leader, the exiled Tibetan lama.
You can find out all about my fine new friend on his site ApaSherpa.com and see/read about his many adventures. Most remarkable about him though, is that he has made the tough decision to give up summit-trekking, because his wife asked him to. Last year too many sherpas (all members of his native ethnic group share the same last name, Sherpa) were killed making the summit. His wife said, “Enough’s enough,” and Apa had to hang up his climbing spurs.
Apa wanted to be a doctor when he was a kid, but when his dad died at an early age young-teenage Apa had to go to work to support his family, and at the time the only source of livelihood for sherpas was — being “a sherpa,” a term that has become synonymous with someone who carries the load for someone else. Apa has made the summit more times than anyone EVER, alive or dead, and has helped with many rescues of stranded climbers, even the sad job of retrieving already dead bodies of others, oftentimes his climbing buddies who tragically didn’t make it. This a highly dangerous line of work, my friends. Hardly any little kid grows up wanting to be a sherpa.
Apa’s life has been devoted to service. His smile betrays only the joy, the passion, and the complete satisfaction of his life. We should all be so lucky to exhibit such peace as he exudes, and maybe we will, but most of us only feel that after we’ve achieved our goals.
Apa has a new goal, now that his climbing days are over. He’s raising money for his fellow sherpas for education and other life essentials. Perhaps you could donate a few dollars to Apa’s Fund, which you’ll find on his website (again, ApaSherpa.com) that he funnels directly to help his fellow sherpas back in Nepal, to help them have more choices about their livelihood than he had when he was young. Today Apa works in Salt Lake City for an American manufacturer whom Apa met when he was climbing Mt. Everest some years back. This American got to help Apa fulfill another of his goals — to live in a place, America, where his children could one day go to college. A documentary is being filmed about Apa and I’m sure you’ll hear more about him in the near future.
When I told Apa about my one big fear in life, heights, he just laughed and said, “Come on! Try it! You’ll like it!” as if offering me a new flavor ice cream cone.
“What??!! Apa, are you talking about climbing Mt. Everest, the highest mountain in the entire world, the most dangerous thing a person could ever do, besides fly a plane upside down at 200 mph, or walking out on the wings while doing so (even harder)?”
“Sure,” Apa grinned his infectious smile, “Try it! Come on! You’ll love it!”
I had to laugh. The idea of me climbing anything higher than the highest hill in Florida (about thirty feet) is ludicrous!
Dreams do come true if we work for them, though, I know that! But I think I’ll stick to getting my already-written books in print first, and then maybe think about an Everest summit in between. We can’t do everything, now can we? I feel like my life has been mostly about climbing my INNER Mt. Everest. I don’t feel I’ve missed out on any excitement, either by not climbing the real deal. Which, by the way, in case you never thought about it, is as high as what jet airliners generally cruise at for long distances: 36,000 feet!
in the Light,
Lordflea (aka teZa Lord)