Spontaneous Dream Combustion: Everest Expedition Cancelled


Brent Seal

Head Trainer & Mountaineer, Mavrixx

It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to be in Nepal, beginning our Everest expedition. Today would have been Day 1 of the expedition, the day we’d meet the rest of our climbing team, secure permits and prepare to head into the Khumbu Valley. We’d then begin the ~10 day trek to Basecamp, and begin our climb.
As I sit here typing these words I feel like a ball of conflicting and suppressed emotions. Still perhaps in shock with everything that’s happened in the world over the last 2 weeks and the disruption in all of our lives.
I also realized I’m experiencing a light state of grief as this article that a friend posted highlights – ‘That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief’.
As soon as I read that article, I was like, ‘yep, that’s what I’m going through’. In a weird way, it’s true. Grief from loss or what I refer to in the title of this post as ‘Spontaneous Dream Combustion’ – where the dream you’ve been working towards for years, literally self-destructs before your eyes.
We got official word of the Everest season being cancelled due to COVID-19 exactly 2 weeks before our scheduled flight to Nepal.
At first, I told myself I had accepted that reality and was moving on and adapting as needed.
But after reading the article on grief, I’ve realized that even though it’s not super intense, that’s the process I’m going through and that along with my acceptance is some denial and sadness for the loss.
It might sound stupid to grieve the loss of being able to climb a mountain, but it’s something I’ve been dreaming of for coming up on 13 years, planning for 5+ years and training for intensely this past 8-10 months.
In reading more about the process and stages of grief, I’m reminded that the process is not linear and not orderly. While I may have jumped to the ‘last’ stage of grief right away (acceptance), I’ve since realized I’ve been moving through the other stages, especially denial and sadness. The other 2 stages are anger and bargaining, and since there’s nothing really to be angry at or no one to bargain with, I haven’t really fallen in to those stages.
It’s something I felt compelled to reflect on and share as I imagine some of you reading this might be experiencing something similar. Whether it’s a sense of loss towards a goal or dream, or employment or just the fact that the world seems so different this week than just 3 weeks ago.
With that, I am trying to keep things in perspective, knowing that the ’Spontaneous Dream Combustion’ is tough, but temporary and I am reminded of a thought I had a few months ago during a training block in the lead up to the expedition.
I was a bit frustrated at that point with all the effort I was putting in, while at the same time feeling like I wasn’t progressing. And I thought to myself ‘why do we put in so much time and effort, when the progress feels so small and slow?!’ And the response I came up with is that ’things can always be worse – far worse.’ It’s a sobering thought, but if we think about it, no matter where we’re at, it’s true.
And thus even when we’re putting in what feels like massive effort and at the same time feeling like we’re standing still, or even moving backwards, these are the times to remind ourselves that without that effort, we could be struggling far more.
I’ve certainly been there with lapses in my self-care and wellness that have led to debilitating mental health struggles and my message to myself and you reading this during this time when it feels we are all moving backward, is that the effort, any and all effort towards our health and wellness and goals and dreams, is worth it, does make a difference and can create positive ripple effects beyond what we can imagine.
With that, I hope this post finds you in a place of self-compassion, strength and good health. And one final thought to leave you with:
‘While our dreams might be delayed, they are not defeated. Tomorrow is another day and it is those with the faith to keep fighting and keep believing that will get through this stronger, more resilient and better able to help those in need.’

If you’re in the mood, here’s episode 1 of our mindVSmountain web series from our last trip to nepal

*Episodes 2 & 3 can be viewed at mindvsmountain.com

  Please reach out if there’s anything we can do to support and if you’re a youth or young adult looking to level up your mental health or get into mental health public speaking, we just created a variety of (temporary) free and sliding scale pricing options to sign up for our 2 signature programs – The EDGE Program and The LEAP Academy. Learn more here: mavrixx.com/covid19/ 

MAVRIXX – Redefining Mental Health
Vancouver | Unceded Coast Salish Territories

  *Feature image by James Frystak Studio