How Death Cab For Cutie Saved My Life

Written by Amy Rae Fox, M.A., M.Ed.

I’m generally not a fan of extremely strenuous physical activity requiring *endurance*. My body is better suited to adventure in intense but short fits and bursts, so when my Intrepid tour group decided to take the longer, higher, hillier and more treacherous Mesilau route up Mount Kinabalu (4101m) I was less than thrilled. I wanted to climb the mountain, I just didn’t want to do it in a rush!

The 8km trek up 3350m to mountainside accommodation was filled with spectacular views. First of dense jungle canopy, then of tree line and clouds and finally sunset over the South China Sea.

I could care less about any of this of course, as I lay flat on my back gasping for breath and praying for death at 7km.

After seven hours of climbing my body had reached a point of utter exhaustion. My limbs complained and my head swam and every single cell voted. The results came in a resounding “HELL NO” (with no need for a re-count) The sun began to set, and water was low. I was done. Simply done.

Being the only disguised-American on my trip, I was particularly sensitive about appearing American. So when my tour guide suggested packing on iPod for the climb – I laughed aloud. Ridiculous! I did not trek 3/4 of the way around the world and brave the jungles of Borneo to listen to Ace of Base while summiting the highest mountain in Southeast Asia! (*scoff* That would be SO American)

BUT my trip leader promised, there will come a time on the climb when your body decides to say “Fuck you too!” and you’ll be glad for that distracting piece of white plastic heaven when you get down the mountain alive.

I’m not going to speculate on the exact mechanism, or how the music works – just testify that it does.

It was with great hesitation that I reached for those headphones – and great relief that I reached 8 km, a bed, a toilet, and hot milo.