by Satyabrata Dam
When we envisioned Higher Than Everest as a platform to offer and encourage everyone to fall in love with the great outdoors and nature, because that’s where we truly belong, we had set aside in particular activities meant for our golden aged friends whom the society at large either neglects, treats with sympathy, or presume to be too old for anything remotely adventurous or the outdoors. In short, the people we choose to forget. Like our parents, elderly aunts and uncles, people above 70, people who are retired from the mainstream of the society.
Both Kiki and I have been inspired by our parents and we have seen how much they have to teach us, how much life they still have to live, how much more they deserve to live before they died, just like any of us. But we seldom offer them opportunities or platforms where they can live to the hilt their lives, without being told repeatedly that they are too old or incapable of what the rest of us are by sheer advantage of age. If only we included them as useful and invaluable participants in our society would we realize how amazing they are and how much we can learn from them. Perhaps they walk at a slower pace but they can outpace us any day, perhaps their knees and joints ache a bit but they are far more energized to bear that pain than us, perhaps they have lesser years to live but they are far more lively and full of life than the rest of us.
We had earlier thought of creating customized fun and adventure activities for our elderly, but then we decided, why not include them in any of our groups, as they are no less capable. So while we would in future be running special activities for the youthful seniors, here’s a short post about the three who has already been with us and have inspired us even further that one is never too old to live, have fun and do something new. For who can say if someone is young or old, but only you. If you feel you are young, then you are. Let no one else decide that for you. I am 58 in physical years but in my heart and soul I feel a teenager who will never grow up, because I do not wish to grow up. Grownups are so boring. I want my life to be fun, exciting, challenging every day. Now read about the three people who decided to be exactly that, to have fun, laugh, and fill up their lives with unbound joy, spirit of freedom and endless adventure.
Mr Giannis Karadoukas (75)
I will begin with Giannis Karadoukas because I knew him personally. Kiki introduced him to me in 2018, he was a friend of her father. Giannis got inspired by Kiki’s Everest expedition to go to the mountains and do something new in his life. I was astounded by his enthusiasm to start hiking at the age of 72. I was amazed at the sparkle in his eyes and his willingness to undergo all the challenges of high mountains. Despite our language handicap, we became great friends as I guided him to Everest base camp (where he outperformed everyone in the team), summit of Kilimanjaro (my guess he is the oldest Greek to summit the mountain), and Elbrus. He became a regular member of all our weekend hikes, climbing Olympus and many other peaks and tough hikes in Greece. He wanted to travel the world and climb all the high mountains. He even wanted to attempt Mt Everest and right now we should have been on Aconcagua (the highest peak of South America), but he passed away last year. I still remember his childlike enthusiasm, his stentorian voice and his joyful leaps in the air every time he reached a summit. He was and continues to be an inspiration to all of us and to everyone who knew him.
He often told me that in the mountains he found a purpose to his life again and that he didn’t wish to quit climbing ever. I am thankful to life for bringing Giannis into our lives and that he passed away after climbing Elbrus on a very difficult day, where we were with him every step of the way up and down. Giannis will live forever within our hearts and soul. I am sure he is climbing all the high peaks in Heaven and is making everyone up their laugh and fall in love with life again.
Mrs Fotini Sidera (83)
I haven’t met this iron lady yet but what Kiki tells me about her, I can’t wait. Fotini has been with most of our trips (short ones) for over the last one year. And she is always the one leading from the front. Fotini has a permanent smile plastered to her face and she has inspired everyone in the group. It is almost impossible to keep up with her pace, her enthusiasm and her love for life. What we found most difficult with her was how to make her slow down or stop. And Fotini always says that in this life she has no time to rest or slow down as there is so much more to experience and live for. Now if that doesn’t inspire you to start living every moment fully then nothing will. In our last trip together, we introduced Fotini to kayaking in Nestos River, something she had never done before. While others hesitated and pondered the risks involved, Fotini was like sprinter off the block. She proved to be a fish in water braving and negotiating all the rapids and turns.
What makes her unique is that she never says no and is never afraid to do something new. We salute your brave heart Fotini and we are grateful that you continue to be with us, egging and inspiring us to go further, higher and ever more adventures.
Mr Agis Papadopoulos (80)
Agis was a great skier in his youth and never lost sight of the outdoors. You often find him swimming out into the seas, enjoying life to the full. He joined our recent skiing trip to Bulgaria and surprised us with his joy of living and of course with his skills. We could only marvel at his graceful ballet like movements as he glided and curved through the powder snow slopes of Borovets. While we struggled to strap into our skies and felt awkward like a duck out of water, Agis was leading the slopes, encouraging us to follow his ski tracks. He was full of stories of his life and we couldn’t have enough of them. We look forward to having you with us Agis on many of our future adventures.
In conclusion I can only add that let not your years fool you into believing that you are old. Age is only a number. It’s never too late to start something new, you are not old unless you think you are. You are capable of achieving any dreams you might still have unfulfilled. Please join us and let us make your impossible dreams possible. Together we would move onwards and upwards. Let me end with a famous quote from the great Henry Ford
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young”