Saturday, December 3, 2011

From the Boatyard to Kilimanjaro

My friend Susan is walking around with a backpack on a lot these days. If you don't already know why, she'll invite you to ask, by announcing with a big smile: "I'm in training!"

For what (you can't help but ask)?

"I climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in January!"

This week, as temps dropped to 24 degrees F, Susan slept outside to test her sleeping bag. It didn’t work. She didn’t sleep. But at least she's not discovering this on Kilimanjaro. And she went to work the next day.

Why is she climbing? You can read about it here.

What does this have to do with Poems from the Boatyard?

Desire. Dreams. Going for it.

Yep, we’re going back to that subject, friends! It’s the end of the year, a good time to evaluate what dreams got dashed, what dreams inched forward, and what dreams we want to dream for 2012.

There are a lot of reasons why Susan could excuse herself from this climb.

For one thing, she celebrates her 70th birthday next year.

She'll have to test a new sleeping bag out soon, when the temps drop sufficiently.

It’s a climb, not a cakewalk, to 19,000 ft. She has to raise several thousand dollars for expenses.

Before this climb was publicized, she had only minimal awareness of the sex trafficking issue. It was not “her” issue, she confided one day, as she weighed her decision. But, she did her homework, engaged, and is now an articulate and assertive spokeswoman for women without voices.

She had to fly out to Colorado at her own expense for a 3-day retreat with all the climbers, and climb Pike’s Peak (14,000 ft.), a team-building "exercise." (The women had to abort the climb part way up because of weather conditions.)

And, she had to sign on the dotted line that she would raise $10,000 for the freedom of women caught or coming out of sex-trafficking. Or to prevent them ever getting caught in that hellish web.

Susan has not only raised the $10,000, but had a desire to raise $19,000, a dollar for every foot of the climb. At last count, she was up to almost $12,000, and still, um, climbing :)

Susan is not a wealthy woman. She is a bookkeeper in a non-profit. Bookkeepers in non-profits are not exactly known for their deep pockets.

The summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro is known as Uhuru Peak. Uhuru is the Swahili word for freedom. It’s the highest mountain in Africa, and was chosen to symbolize the mountain every woman and child has to climb to get out of slavery.

Talk about desire.

Everyone needs a friend like Susan (scroll down!). I want to write her a check for the remaining $7,000 just to applaud her desire. But poets aren't exactly known for their deep pockets either, and anyway, that wouldn’t be half as much fun as seeing where all these contributions are coming from, and to hear the stories!

This is not a financial appeal (but you can donate here), nor is it intended to guilt you into thinking you're not doing enough.

It is to inspire you to dream.

A New Year is about to begin.
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

--Langston Hughes

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