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What's your personal "Mountain"?

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

How do you choose to live your life?

So I watched something yesterday that deeply inspired me.

Of all things, it was a documentary about mountaineering. Don't ask me why I watched it, I simply chanced upon it while being bored.

The documentary film itself is called 14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible (2021) and it's about how one Nepalese man, "Nims" Nimsdai Purja, went on a personal mission to climb all fourteen of our planet earth's 8,000 feet mountains within a single year.

For all of you out there who, like me, have no prior appreciation of mountains, these fourteen peaks are mostly located in Nepal, Pakistan and China. This includes Mount Everest of course.

It's also a crazy feat. Here's why.

Looking at precedence, the first and only prior person who managed to achieve the above was Italian Mountaineer, Reinhold Messner, who took a whopping sixteen years to complete all 14-peaks.

I really don't know how Nims found the balls to do it all within a year.

But he did.

Here's the trailer if you wanted to check it out.

Of course, Nims is no ordinary guy.

He's a formally trained Gurkha soldier in the British Army, and the first Gurkha to ever be admitted into the Special Boat Services (SBS), the special forces unit of the Royal Navy.

As part of his mountaineering training, Nims goes for an easy 20km warm-up run starting at 3am each morning. After that, he goes to the gym to train for several hours, finally finishing his workout at around 11 later that morning.

Of course, his endeavour to climb all fourteen peaks came with their setbacks.

His mom had a heart attack during the project, not to mention the extreme weather and avalanches he faced during his climbs, and even had a fellow climber tragically die in his arms during a treacherous ascent.

Mentally, he also faced an insurmountable wall of criticism from the mountaineering community, some saying he was delusional for planning such an ambitious project, while others called him out on "cheating" by using supplementary oxygen tanks during his climbs.

Despite this, Nims maintains his singular drive to pursue his dream to accomplish what he set out to do.

This comes across in his outspokenness and unstoppable positivity. In fact, there is one memorable scene where he arrives at a base camp only to be met by distraught and depressed climbers.

These climbers had all but given up on conquering that mountain, as earlier that day, their hours of effort were swept down and away by a tremendous avalanche.

They felt defeated, glued to the belief that "if the mountain doesn't want us to climb, then we can't climb".

What does Nims do as he arrives? Well, he throws a party, and gets everyone happy and drunk and dancing.

And the next day, he encourages them to climb again. Many of them make it to the summit along with Nims.

Fast forward to the end and after a mere six months and six days, he reaches all fourteen of the world's highest summits.

It made me wonder about my own personal "mountain".

Unfortunately, not all of us have the personal gifts and extraordinary physique of Nims. Still, I was left with newfound inspiration after watching the show.

Strangely, it also came along with a sense of exasperation.

I was in awe of this guy, who had accomplished so much based on sheer will. I couldn't help but compare my efforts to his.

So don't laugh at me, but the first thing I did with this sense of exasperation was to head to the swimming pool and sprint 30 straight laps of freestyle (haha).

The adrenaline rush spurred me to keep going even when I was tired and breathless.

I just kept sprinting.

Despite that, it wasn't enough to displace this sense I was feeling. It was still raw, unexamined. It required a deeper internal search.

I got out and sat by the pool for a while, with my feet dangling in the water. I reminded myself of an anonymous quote I heard a long time ago.

We are all climbing our own mountains, and everybody's mountain is different.

Still, that strong desire to "conquer" something remained.

What was that, I wondered.

I'll be very honest with you, my endeavours have felt a little messy lately.

To my frequent readers out there, you might have noticed I've been slow in my writing recently.

I've been caught up with a lot of other stuff and ideas, including creating and growing a non-profit organisation, finishing my studies, as well as seeing my own therapy clients.

Even though they have all been in line with my personal values, and has been exceedingly rewarding too, it hasn't really felt like a coordinated effort to achieve a common goal.

In hindsight, that was the problem.

I was missing one element - that sense of a "common goal". I needed to unite the parts in a coordinated effort to "conquer" that something worthwhile.

And what is that personal mountain of mine? Probably to help others climb their own mountains too.

Including you there reader :)

Let's go climb our mountains.

For me, I decided to write all of these down on a piece of paper and stick in up on my wall.

Filtering up as various paths to helping people climb their own mountains, I then wrote down several goals for myself. These are:

  • Finish writing the series on "Heal with ACT" and making sure it's readable as a whole.

  • Commit to writing an article each week.

  • Reach the goal of an average of 50 support calls per month through our non-profit startup

  • Grow our mental health discord server to a 1,000 people by June 2022.

  • Make plans to hold a mental health marathon run or swim along the theme of "Mental Illness doesn't mean you're weak".

  • Complete my remaining 300 practicum hours to become a registered counselling psychologist in Singapore.

  • Grow our youtube channel on mental health and test out different ways to reach Singaporeans out there.

So there they are. Phew.

That's a lot of goals and ideas out there. Don't worry, I don't feel pressured or stressed about any of them.

In fact, I feel a sense of joy writing them down.

They feel whole.

In ending, I leave you with this quote from the film.

It's not a quote by Nims himself, but actually by the Italian Mountaineer who held the previous record before Nims went ahead and smashed it.

It's a quote by Reinhold Messner, the Italian Mountaineer who was the first to climb all fourteen peaks, albeit in sixteen years.

Despite being a background figure in the documentary, he is one of the most highly respected persons in the mountaineering community.

Of course, the reason for this is because he was the first human being to ever do so. It was only through his pioneering efforts that people like Nims could be inspired to continue pushing forth.

In fact, while many of the mountaineering world were criticising Nims for his audacious claim to begin his project, Messner wholeheartedly supported and spurred Nims on.

While people told Nims it was impossible, Messner sent his encouragement and respect.

So here's the quote and a video by Messner below, which reminded me why having our own personal mountains to climb is so important.

"Most of us are forgetting that from the beginning of our life we are approaching death. Life is absurd. But you can fill it with ideas. With enthusiasm. You can fill your life with joy."
Mountaineer Reinhold Messner, first person to climb all fourteen of our planet's 8,000 feet mountains.

Now my friend, go climb your personal mountain.

Thanks for reading Kaya Toast for the Soul. Hope you enjoyed another random article. And if you'd like to join me on my efforts, email me at :) I'll be happy to hear from you! Take care!

1 Comment

Jan 18, 2022

Awesome post Hernping. I personally would like to climb my own mountain and be brave and explore the corporate world as I had always dreamt. Being stuck in the public service (PS) is no joke - being here for the best of my 20 years there and trying out new things and move out to the corporate world is like a mountain which one day I would be able to conquer. It’s always the fear of failure and changing the way and thinking of how a private sector would work is also one of the main reason I am stuck in the PS. But reading this article, I felt inspired!


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