Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Life Lessons From the Inca Trail

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness" - Mark Twain

After returning last week from hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, taking a day hike in Ollantaytambo, a day tour of both Cuzco and Lima, and spending time with the porters who carry almost all of our stuff, one can't help but leave with some fresh/ refreshed perspective. Things I learned or remembered in Peru.

1. Someone who is busier than you is running right now. We've probably all heard that quote or 'liked' the post on Facebook. What does it mean? It means 'comfortable' is dangerously close to 'complacent'. Our guide, who spoke 3 languages and hikes the Inca Trail 4 - 5 times a month during the peak season; has a degree in tourism and is finishing a second degree in law. He is going to define the spirit of capitolism and what can be acheived if we never stop working for our dreams.
2. Less is more. No TV for at least 5 of the days, no email access most of the time, no phone calls meant all we were able to do is be truly alive more moments of the day.
3. We were meant to move. 5 cities and 4 historic sites in 8 days (2 of which were entirely spent travelling), poor sleeps every night and yet I return at peace. In our constantly plugged in world our brains & parasympathetic nervous systems are on all the time, yet our spirits rarely see any stimulation. We witnessed food storage areas that would be 20 minute (or longer) hikes away from where people would eat or prepare food, but the Inca's were anything but lazy. Machu Picchu remained as an Incan site undisturbed by the Spanish because "who would build a settlement way up in the mountains?"
4. The greatest legacy you can give your kids are life lessons and opportunities to demonstrate what they've learned. Most of our porters worked solely to pay for their kids' education to give them a better life than they had. In many cases this meant living in different cities & rarely seeing your kids. How many of us could be that unselfish?
5. We are most alive in the pursuit and attainment of our goals. No matter how old or young you are, it's never too late, to early, or too frequent (depending on your roles & responsibilities) to be getting busy making the most out of your one shot at life.

There are many, many more lessons that the Inca Trail can teach - but the one thing I can say for sure - is that these lessons can only be learned by living life, not reading about it. Get busy living!

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