As I huffed and puffed up the 5,000 meter pass, I whispered a phrase to myself over and over again: a person can stand anything for just about 10 seconds. If you’re familiar with this slogan and it’s origin, I praise you. If you’re not, I can understand how it can seem just a little bit stupid (especially considering my circumstance was a beautiful hike in Bolivia!). However, it ended up proving extremely meaningful in my completion of the Cordillera Real trek when there were a handful of moments where I caught myself thinking “I can’t do this.”
Whenever I had one of those moments, whether it was due to the lack of oxygen or my badly timed stomach bug, I would ask myself: where are you going to be in 10 seconds? What are you going to feel? What about 10 seconds after that? Usually by the time I had begun to think about the posed questions the initial 10 seconds was over and I was onto the next 10. I was a survior, even if for just 10 seconds. And so up I went- over passes, through streams, in sun and hail, 10 seconds at a time.
My 10 second system helped me get through what was a really tough week for me. As much as I love nature and the beauty of Pachamama, I had trouble with the discomfort of high altitude trekking and the challenges that come with it. I’m not used to having to use all of my might to breathe with every step. I was scared feeling the buzz of lightning in my hands. And, quite frankly, nature poops are not my thing! But even in the hardest, most painstaking moments, I took it 10 seconds at a time. Every 10 seconds was a clean slate, a new period without judgement of myself or of the world around me.
So, the next time you find yourself thinking “I can’t do this,” think of us in the Cordillera: blistered, wind burnt, smelly, and exhausted, taking it 10 seconds at a time.
** The slogan is from an extremely uplifting Netflix show called “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” I highly recommend!