Pushing the Limits

Coe’s post about keeping the momentum and Amanda’s Hey You post both made me think about the mind-games we have to play with ourselves to keep going. Which of course reminded me of my own large project under way right now. It’s trying, poor thing, to get past its saggy-baggy-middle and I often find myself getting royally in its way.

IMG_7905Some of you know that from mid-October to early November, I was part of a group that aimed to trek the Annapurna Circuit. We didn’t do the whole thing because the week we started was the week that Nepal and the world (or at least anyone who was paying attention) got gob-smacked by this terrible catastrophe that killed over forty trekkers and left maybe 50 missing.  We were three days away from that pass and the worst we suffered included bad colds, sleep-deprivation, and mild altitude spaciness. We ended up hiking in some glorious places, meeting some generous, gracious people, and falling in love with Nepal.


Wait. There’s a writing connection here. I kept a daily journal for the 22 days of the trip. Here’s what I wrote on Day 4:

To Chame, uphill and downhill until I feel I have no breath left at all but still I keep going and somehow at the end of the day I am still breathing and my muscles have stopped emitting screaming pain signals from all this overtime work. Past dozens of waterfalls that are sculpting the rocks. Each striation gleams, ivory on granite, elephantine in scale. You can hear the water roaring down, sometimes half an hour before you round a corner and see it. It is as if the source of all life on the planet is here; here is the heartbeat, and our puny wants and whims fall away at the sight.

And story is like that. You should be able to feel it long before you know what it is. You have to trust that every corner you turn is taking you in the right direction.

Sometimes, too, you have to recognize that there’s an avalanche ahead and you may have to turn back. That’s not failure. It’s letting go your original, logical plan, and going with what the universe has handed you.

That could be an 800 foot waterfall, or it could be laughing children. Be grateful, and keep on trekking.


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7 responses to “Pushing the Limits

  1. The whole trip would have been worth it for those three laughing girls. What a beautiful post, Uma. A great way to start the working week; thankful to be on the trail, at all.

  2. martineleavitt

    What a beautiful post, Uma. And the perfect metaphor. Thank you.

  3. Pingback: Pushing the Limits | Uma Krishnaswami

  4. louisehawes

    SO true, Uma! I love the idea that something I sense more than see is waiting just around the corner. What a moment when I round that corner and see it, set free and roaring!

    • My recent Write at your own risk about writing a scene that would not be in the story was precisely about this: sensing something that was around the corner and knowing I had to approach the corner from another street. The scene confirmed the sense and unlocked the story.

      • louisehawes

        Yes, Tim! Yes! I remember, too, a lecture of yours years ago about clues that our “inner writer” leaves for us in a manuscript or draft. Those seem to me like the rush and rumble of water that, if we follow them, will lead us to the roar.

  5. Another street–exactly, Tim. And not a street you “plan” to take with your conscious mind. We need to stumble upon these things, which means getting our managerial, practical selves well out of the way.

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