Mental Resilience: Laughter in the face of adversity!

Last year, I had the pleasure to spend time in East Africa with Chris Bakkes. Among other adventures, we climbed to to top of Kilimanjaro together. This is no small feat for anyone but Chris is missing one arm and a good chunk of his other shoulder. This the result of getting attacked by two crocodiles when he was a South African Park Ranger twenty years ago.... So it's tough going for him with the gear and the backpack and tent, not to mention climbing and balancing on tricky sections. We took our time when needed - and we did just fine.  

We pretty much laughed our way up that mountain and we cried on the top, Chris looked around, said thank you and we hugged. He joked that there was something very wrong with following a Scotsman to the roof of his own continent. Then he announced that he was all out of jokes but had a poem. He recited Robert Service's, 'The Spell Of The Yukon', entirely from memory....

A couple of nights before one of our guides had been lecturing us on washing our hands after tying our bootlaces  (it's important - because being close to the ground they are full of germs, especially after going to the toilet). Chris shook his head and said to me, "Does he realize I tie my laces with my teeth"

It was like that for the whole trip. Twice we were asked by restaurant managers to "please be quiet", and I involuntarily spat my coffee out after one extremely funny and unexpected comment.

On the mountain, on a particularly cold morning after a long day prior, I had played a practical joke that some folks seemed to enjoy (first and last time I've ever worn leopard-print tights. No, there are no pictures). I shared with Chris my opinion that, "sometimes humor is the best thing to keep us going". He replied. "Sometimes it's the only thing that keeps you going". I think he knows that better than most. 

So next time you are in a race, or on a hike and you find yourself in the 'hurt locker'. - Laugh. It will release endorphins and make you feel stronger. If I can't find anything funny, I can usually laugh at myself... no shortage of material there! 

Here is a short video of Chris playing with his dogs. He is a legendary conservationist who runs safaris in the Damaraland Desert in Namibia. His mission is to protect the White Rhino from poachers. Chris is also a writer and has published five books, the last one - written in English - is called 'Bushveld, Desert and Dogs: A Game Ranger's Life'. You can buy it here, he's an amazing storyteller.

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