Mt. Kerinci, Sumatra

Mt. Kerinci

Sumatra, Indonesia
December 24th 2014

It was late afternoon when we, the guide and myself, arrived at the 2nd shelter at 3.000 m. The wind blew from west through the trees which still grew up here. Compared to the trees below, they were much thinner and more flexible to stand in the stronger winds of higher mountain level.

It was already Christmas evening in Japan. People are going out for a fine dinner with their loved person and having a romantic time in the city which is illuminated by millions of lights of Christmas decoration.

In Germany it was still morning time. Many people work until noon, but also for those who take a day off, the day is quite packed. Many people still heading around in the city searching for presents – might be they had no time before – might be they still don’t know what would fit to the person whom they want provide the present. And some people trying to escape the preparation stress which takes place at home or just want to overcome the waiting time meeting friends in a coffee place or bar. It is a very lively day in the city – at least until noon when all the shops close. Then the preparation for the evening starts. Preparing the dinner, decorate the Christmas tree, after it was adjusted to the tree-holder, which was always an adventure during my childhood, – all undergoing while listening to Christmas songs on the radio.

In my memory that day is quite packed and full of rush and expectations for a nice, happy time. But was there a time to pause?

While I was climbing Mt. Kerinci, I had to stop and pause several times. Especially when we reached the level above 2.800 m. And finally, we stopped at 3.000 m from where we plan to continue tomorrow morning at 3:15 am. A long rest time.

But when did I stop and pause on another Christmas day before? When did I take a time to think about the day itself? Did I stop and pause at all?

Mainly I was driven by the wish to make the day and evening beautiful, enjoyable and special. Especially on Christmas day. Same as for many other people, the weeks before became very busy with all kind of preparation, company- and various club dinners, family and friend visits. We always try to organize all, buy meaningful presents, fulfill wishes we don’t really know and prepare complicated, heavy traditional dinner which should be enjoyed by everybody.

No, there was not really time to pause.

Too busy trying to fulfill something what I thought is important.

Today, walking up the mountain, I paused. Not only one time, it was several times.

Right, I was tired from walking up, carrying my luggage, getting short of breath in the thinner air.

While I paused, I was watching the forest, scenery and life around me.

I paused.

The rain-forest is fascinating – so green and where every you look, there is something to discover. Even if you close your eyes and don’t watch all the flowers, trees and beings, you can hear all that sounds around you. It’s completely different form a white Christmas winter forest.

A white winter forest is so peaceful and quiet…
While the rain-forest is full of life; monkeys chilling around, nasty squirrels, and color-changing lizards instead of red nose reindeer.

A strong wind blew through the trees and chased the clouds through them. Where there any trees at Bethlehem at all? If yes, what kind of trees? I am sure not winter Christmas trees and no tropical rain forest. Must be different trees for sure.

But if so, don’t we pay sometimes too much attention to the details and settings we try to create? Trying to make a beautiful winter landscape with lots of colorful decoration and illumination?

And do we really need a Christmas tree to celebrate? All the sweet cookies which taste so wonderful, all the good food and drinks – which makes us feel sick after three days? And what about the presents?

Maybe didn’t really get it, but I can’t remember anything written in the holy book about Christmas tree, dinner or food during the next days. Presents, yes, there is mentioned that the three wise man brought presents for Jesus. Things which will support him on his journey and the parents have not been able to provide or bring.

But wasn’t his situation different from most of us? Jesus was born during a journey, placed in a crib in a shelter for sheep and cows. Not knowing where to stay.

Taking another pause and holding with my hand to one of the trees near me, my mind started to reflect my luggage. Even climbing a mountain, I most likely carried more than his parents that time. In my backpack there was a tent, mattress, warm sleeping bag, cooking equipment, enough food for 3 days, lots of warm clothes, emergency kit and medicine, a smartphone, wet towels, a head flashlight, spare batteries, and last but not least – a 5kg heavy camera equipment including tripod. And water.

What do I really need?

What do other people need?

Most of the things I did and tired for Christmas days before, where driven by pictures created in my head. Pictures with winter Christmas tree and a gold brown goose in the oven. Wine on the table, cold beer in the fridge.

But I cannot really answer if at the end with all the effort I was able to create a change or sustainable improvement for the people around me on that day.

Or if we all just try to fulfil a picture which is stuck in our minds.

While it was getting dark, the pictures and memories slightly disappeared. It was getting cold and my feelings came back to where I was now.

Finally, today – I paused. Maybe because walking too much. Maybe because the air was getting thin. Maybe because it was Christmas day.

It became dark. The wind still blew strong, chasing clouds through the tree. Between the clouds in the dark blue sky some stars started to shine. And I sat down and lighted a candle which I brought for tonight.

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