In the movie Matrix is â€‹â€‹a scene where a boy bend a spoon only with his will.
“Do not try to bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, try to Realize the truth: there is no spoon!”
For thousands of years, humans have written about miracles, strange tales of supernatural events and universal laws repealed, not by force or strength, but with such a simple thing as “will”.
The difficulty in life is not to achieve our goals but to find out what are dreams really are. We fight in several directions simultaneously and get surprised that we are mediocre instead of becoming the best at one single thing.
Aron Anderson focuses all in one direction. He has learned to fight the hard way. If you once have fought for your own life, then you know what motivation and focus is and you know how to channel your energy and strength.
When I started my voyage of discovery 20 years ago, I did not really know how to focus on a specific goal, I put down maybe 30-40% of my focus, for example, when kayaking from Stockholm to Africa or during the climb of Mount McKinley in Alaska. It was not until many years later when I stood on the top of Mount Everest, that I began to understand how important it is with 100% focus.
Since 2005 I have worked as a coach for business executives and lectured in Team, Motivation and Dreams. Often, I get calls from all over the world from people who want to interview me or talk about these subjects. Also on this day the phone rang and a guy named Aron Anderson wanted to interview me for a special project about motivation that he was working on. He wanted to interview me on the subject; From the dream to the goal, and we decided to meet for a coffee.
What already at that point made me react was that despite his illness that made him wheelchair bound, he had no comments that I lived three floors up with no elevator ..
“Do not worry, I can crawl up.” And up he came crawling up the stairs with his chair in his hand and a smile that stretched between the ears.
Well, if he doesn’t consider himself handicapped then I should not either. He received no applause or backslapping for his ascent of the stairs, it felt like he did this best himself and that was how he wanted it. After an hour’s conversation about my adventures and my work with children and the environment, we realized that many of our challenges had commonalities. The first was that much of what we had done, many said would be impossible.
The second was that we both saw Opportunity where others saw Obstacles.
We decided to work for Aron’s dream of getting a medal in Paralympics 2016 in Rio. He felt that he needed some help with inspiration and organization around the coming years and I offered my help. When people talk about targets, they most often go for what they know they can achieve. Dreams beyond the Comfort Zone are to far away to even aim for. I wanted to show Aron that iceberg is so much greater than just the top you see above the surface and that his True Potential is stronger than he could ever dream of.
I got an idea, let us climb the highest mountain in Sweden!
That Aron’s in a wheelchair did not bother him one bit. He just asked;Â when can we start?
We realized that summer came closer and we got to hurry up in order to plan the world’s first ascent of Mt Kebnekaise … in a wheelchair. My biggest question was how long it might take for a person to crawl, pull up and jump on crutches up to 2000 meters. Does it take a month or a week? Who is going to carry all the equipment? Yes, it was quite simple: I had to do it myself of course. We had everything against us except for one thing: the will. The will to succeed was with both of us and giving up was not an option unless one of us got injured of course. I asked my girlfriend Lina if she wanted to help and then the expedition was a fact.“Hey, I want to rent crampons for ice climbing!”The clerk at Kebnekaise Mountain Lodge looked suspicious on the crazy guy in the wheelchair who sat beneath the counter. I would give anything to know what the guy was thinking when he gave a pair of crampons to the guy in the wheelchair. The staff were very interested in our preparations and watched with wide eyes when I tried to get up to 45 kilos and wheelchair on my back with Aaron walking slowly on crutches beside me. Lina had something around 15-20 kilos and then we started the trek towards the mountain. Shaking heads and doubtful glances met us when we went past the station and up the first hill. Along the trail Aron started to take long breaks but he walked on and I soon realized that maybe this would work after all. Most often, it’s all about of I can cope or not, now this problem lay in Aron’s hands. The breaks became more frequent the higher up we got and Aron started to understand what we were about to do. This would not be a walk in the park. This would take time, but we were going to do it at any cost.In the afternoon we met climbers who were on their way down from the top and it was with great surprise, respect and awe they welcomed us on the small path up to the first camp. This is not a mountain where one normally sees disabled people who are on their way up towards the top of Sweden.
Four years ago I organized an expedition with the organizationÂ MinStoraDagÂ where I am an ambassador. The expedition was to take a large group of very sick children from hospitals all around the country to the top of Sweden. I remember the joy we received from all the people we met on the mountain and this was a joy I now revived with Aron up the Western Trail on Kebnekaise.
The rapids became very difficult for us to pass when our backpacks were heavy and Aron’s crutches difficult to balance on the slippery stones. We had to work in teams during the passages since every mistake could mean the end of our summit attempt. After six long and strenuous hours we finally came to a small lake that lay at the first big hill. The feeling of coming forward was indescribable. The road up there was long and steep and Aron looked up at the steep hills with reluctant but determined eyes. I know that special – “it doesn’t matter if it seems impossible – I’ll do it anyway” – kind of look. Purely mentally, it was no doubt that Aron already sat on summit of Kebnekaise, but would he pull this physically? I walked on crutchesÂ myselfÂ for a long time in 1997 due to frost bites after a Himalayan expedition and I know how damn hard it is to jump on crutches. You get tired in both hands, shoulders and arms. And this is on flat ground. Now he’s going to pull up a steep hillside full of loose slippery boulders with gravel on. Can you imagine a worse scenario for guy in a wheelchair?
In retrospect, it was probably lucky that the day after was filled with fog, rain and cloudy skies. We needed a rest day and pep us for before the summit attempt.
According to the weather report, it would stop raining in the evening and the sun would rise at 4:00, so that was our chance and we made sure to be ready to start at 5:00. In that way we could take all day and evening for us to reach the top. I looked to the top of the hill and pointed out the route and slowly we started balancing over rocks towards the steep part of the mountain. Aron knew that one misstep would result in a helicopter rescue so every crutch must be completely sure before the body swung past the next rock. After a few hours we were up on the first hill and my positivity reached unprecedented heights, we could do it after all!
Lina went quiet in the lead with her heavy bag and was searching for water between the rocks. We had already passed the last place to get water, so now it was all about pure luck if we were to find a source between the rocks. We all needed to drink continuously but we only had water for one day, we got to be careful with what we had. The sun was gazing and the air was filled with dust, but the sky was blue and it did not rain. Once up on top of the first hill we looked across the valley to the next hill and Aron realized that this was far from over. This was going to be a long night, but Aron had struggled before in extreme conditions. He has a Gold medal in sailing and 10 junior gold medals in Ice hockey. He knows what it means to give everything, but this was something new. This time he had to practice the same sport for 18 hours that he normally exercises for perhaps one hour. All his previous workouts was nothing compared to this. Aron lay down on the sharp stones and lay completely still. He was exhausted, but after a while he stood on his crutches again and walked a few steps, and a couple more and a couple more. The day progressed and we arrived at the little hut at 1800 meters. Now it was just a few hundred meters of altitude left. Normally, it takes an hour to walk from here to the top, but we would need a much longer time than that. The evening was approaching and even though it will not be pitch black outside, it becomes colder and the light becomes darker so it’s hard to judge the distance between the stones. We had to move on and Aron fought with all his strength. Unfortunately, the top is just half way, which is always a sour surprise when you’re there for the first time. It is an art from to learn how to allocate its energy and balance your strength so you can climb down without taking excessive risks. While the way up is based on Motivation, the way down based on Risk Analysis. It’s dangerous to give everything during your climb to the top.
But against all common sense and logic we reached the top of our country. Aron literally shuffled himself the last part up to the snow while I was balancing with crampons and the wheelchair, ready to place in on the top so Aron could sit on top of Sweden.
“Yes, we did it!”. Aaron screamed out his joy on the top and all the climbers on the mountain stared with wide eyes at the guy in the wheelchair on the top. Around us sloped chute that could have been the end for both of us, but with an ice ax, a wheelchair and sticks we managed to balance on the top for a while until we slowly slid down the icy slope to safe ground again.
Now it was only half way left …
In silence, pain and fatigue, we climbed down the long slopes that brought us to our tents. It was with weary but sparkling eyes that we saw the tent, 18 hours from when we started. Aron could barely walk one meter when we arrived and we collapsed into our sleeping bags. He made it.
Again, we saw proof that everything is possible, the impossible just takes a little longer.
“There is no spoon” …