Moment of Change | Teen Ink

Moment of Change

March 31, 2019
By roved12 GOLD, Brooklyn, New York
roved12 GOLD, Brooklyn, New York
13 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Four days had passed and I had yet to shower or eat a proper meal. That’s right, a city girl taking on the wild side. Filthy, smelly, and sore – my back aching from carrying a large and heavy bag. After hiking for what seemed like years, we reached a campsite. I knew I wasn’t getting a toilet or a bed, but I was hoping for at least a sink. Instead, we had the “luxury” of sleeping under the stars.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, I remembered I had to wake up at 3:30 in the morning for our last, “short” hike. I woke up in the same filthy clothes, bags under my eyes and dirt under my skin. A sense of relief hit me when I realized this would be the end.

But it wasn’t the end.  Sam, a 68-year-old paralyzed man, was waiting at the entrance of the hike in a wheelchair. My guide introduced him as the father of his friend. I looked at this crippled man with a sense of remorse, simultaneously grateful for my working legs. When our guide mentioned we would be carrying Sam and his wheelchair on the hike, my eyes nearly fell out of my head. What if we drop him? What if there are rocks in our path? What if one of us loses our grip? How could children be trusted with a man’s life?

After confirming that this situation was my reality, I volunteered to be part of the first group to carry Sam. I figured I’d do the deed and be done with it. It was selfish, but this was nothing I could imagine myself succeeding in doing.

After ten minutes, my spaghetti arms were worse off than they initially were. Sweat was dripping down every part of my body, and my hands were slipping. I knew I wouldn’t be able to physically manage this. I happily handed my job over to someone else and picked up my pace.

I finally reached a shaded spot to rest while the group was still 20 minutes behind. When the group arrived, I saw their sweat-stained shirts, their legs bleeding from the thorns, and their tongues parched from thirst. Once again I felt remorse, but stronger than last time. This time I viewed myself as lazy and was disgusted with my behavior. I felt guilty for not being a part of the team and for making the selfish choice. I knew I had it in me to be better.

I walked over to the group and told everyone to rest as I took ahold of Sam’s chair. I used this opportunity to speak with him as I realized I knew nothing about him. He told me he fought in a war and he was inches from a bomb denotation that left him paralyzed from the neck down. This man risked his life to protect people he didn’t even know, and here I was being a snobby girl. I knew that this was not the person I wanted to be. From that moment my perspective changed.

I no longer worried about the way my hair looked or the blisters on the back of my feet. My only concern was getting Sam to the top of the mountain so he could live his dream. For the next three hours I hiked with a man practically in my arms. My arms and legs were shaking, my feet were aching, sweat was everywhere, but when I looked up I saw him smiling, so I smiled too. Dirt washes off, muscles recover, but the accomplishment of carrying a paralyzed man up a mountain never wears off.

When we reached the top of the mountain, I wasn’t only facing the beautiful vista, I was witnessing a dream become a reality. At my dirtiest, I’ve never felt so alive.

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