ULTIMATE LESSONS IN HUMILITY by Jack Inbar
L to R: Jake Hendy, Shakeh Hendy, Susan Smith, Jeremy Blakeney, Kim Blakeney, Dan Ottesen, Josh Webber, Nathan Connor Sam Burdick, Keisha Burdick, Cord Nichols, Lisa Elbaum, Maarit Friman, Omar Taveras, Jack Inbar
It is without reservation that I can state unequivocally that I believe I have been taught the ultimate lessons in
humility on the 2012 Titan Alarm Peruvian journey even prior to the start of the charitable work on the orphanage for underprivileged children. The four day hike to Machu Picchu has been far more of a journey of the soul than a journey of the body. While this hike stretched my outer physical limits, this paled in comparison to the depths it caused me to reach inside myself and to expand beyond my comfort zone. It has been my honor to get to know 12 men who acted as our porters who have literally transfixed my heart and taught me lessons I hope to never forget. God truly does work in mysterious ways for which I am extraordinarily grateful. My team and I worked harder than we ever dreamed possible to surmount the incredible challenges of this hike. We climbed despite the foreboding altitude and enormous distance. We carried nothing in our arms and had only the weight of our bodies to manage. Yet, the porters climbed the same rigorous terrain carrying over sixty pounds each of luggage. The porters were all men who were easily in their 50’s. I was mesmerized by their physical and emotional strength as they kept up with us and climbed without complaint. When I was struggling and felt I could not take another step, I would look over at these men walking tirelessly carrying heavy loads. I was awed by them. I thought about how utterly exhausted I was and I had nothing to carry. I could not imagine how they could possibly continue at their age with such massive loads on their backs.
“When I was struggling and felt I could not take another step, I would look over at these men walking tirelessly carrying heavy loads.
I WAS AWED BY THEM.” ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
In addition to carrying such enormous loads on their backs, the porters worked with a speed, energy and intensity that literally astounded me. The porters got up in the morning at least an hour before we did and fetched hot water for us to wash with and had our breakfast ready for us to eat when we got up. When we had finished our hike for the day and felt we could not take another step, it was our tireless porters who set up our tents. Ironically, we always left approximately ninety minutes ahead of the porters because they stayed behind to take down the tents and pack them up for us. Yet, somehow they always arrived ahead of us in time to set up the tents and prepare our meals. It defies my imagination how they found the stamina to accomplish this at every stage of the hike without exception.
“I then remembered that they were each earning the equivalent of $35.00
I then remembered that they were each earning the equivalent of $35.00 for this colossal effort and it nearly brought me to my knees with a mixture of gratitude for my own blessings, admiration for their hard work and sadness for their misfortune. When we finally reached //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// our destination, I felt completely inspired to have them join our team for a celebratory meal at a restaurant. The men politely declined our invitation at first and then when they reluctantly accepted at our urging, they told us that they had never eaten at a restaurant before. It was at this moment that I understood the true meaning of what it meant when people spoke of and sang about a hard and honest day’s work. I also truly grasped the meaning of how unbelievably extraordinary my own life was. Restaurants are a regular part of my existence and these amazing and inspirational men had never experienced this pleasure before. The disparity between the life I lived and the way these men lived was enormous. As we checked into our hotels, I noticed that our porters were standing outside the restauraunt and I asked the men where they would be staying. They told me they would get some sleep on the floor of a restaurant. I was once again beyond shocked and insisted that they be our guests and treated them to a night at the hotel.
FOR THIS COLOSSAL EFFORT...”
We are told almost daily how fortunate we are and that we should count our blessings. This concept is certainly admirable in ideology. However, a picture is truly worth a thousand words and far more meaningful. When you see a man with your own eyes carry 65lb-75lb and seventy pounds on his back climbing up a mountain in high altitude day after day to earn a meager wage and then sleeping on the floor of a restaurant, you have a genuine picture that describes how unbelievably lucky we truly are. I cannot imagine a more humbling experience than seeing men older than myself carrying these heavy bags and climbing these difficult trails. It is astounding to me that this is how they earn their living and survive with minimal rewards. It is my greatest hope that my team and I were able to make these 12 men feel special, appreciated, valued and important the night they were our guides. I know that they made an indelible impression on us. It is my aspiration to keep the image of these men forever alive as a reminder and lesson in humility whenever we are feeling less than fully grateful for the amazing bounty which has been bestowed upon us. While our own lives will certainly have its frustrations and disappointments, I doubt that anything in our lives can compare with the lives of these 12 porters. I am truly humbled and grateful to have had the honor of meeting them.