Dreams of a Refugee: From the Middle East to Mount Everest

Mostafa Salameh on the Peak of Mt. Everest

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream only at night in the dusty recesses of their mind, find their dreams to be in vain. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.

T. E. Lawrence

Mostafa Salameh had no intentions of becoming a mountain climber. He had one goal… to find a better life for himself and his family. Mostafa was born in 1970 in Kuwait to Palestinian refugee parents. But one night in 2004, everything changed. The Jordanian had a vivid dream in which he was praying from the world’s highest peak. That dream led him on a quest resulting in him not only climbing Mount Everest, but climbing what is known as the ‘Explorers Grand Slam.,’ which includes scaling the Seven Summits of the world, plus the South and North Poles. Mostafa Salameh would never characterize himself as being ‘extraordinary.’ Nor was there any indication in his past that would have suggested he would be so. But, what he accomplished was indeed extraordinary.

Mountain climbing was never part of his agenda. Salameh had emigrated from his middle eastern homeland to Scotland to become a food and beverage manager for the Sheraton hotel. That, prior to his dream, was the height of his ambition. He had come from an impoverished family, living a near-destitute existence. Living in the United Kingdom working for a multinational corporation, exceeded anything that he or his family could have dreamt of… he thought. It was from there, however, that his ambitions took a dramatic turn, and his dream took over.
Having developed the culinary skills that would provide him and his family the certainty of his newfound prosperity, he instead, embarked on what many would describe as a most foolhardy and dangerous expedition. After several failures, he became more determined… more tenacious. After multiple defeats and setbacks, he finally ascended to the peak on Mt. Everest… on May 25th, 2008, Jordan’s Independence Day.

Salameh was awarded the Independence Medal by King Abdullah II for his feat. But he didn’t stop there. In 2012, he completed the ‘Seven Summits’ (scaling the highest peak on each continent), and in 2016, reached the South Pole to become one of 16 individuals in the world to accomplish the ‘Grand Slam.’
Today, Mostafa Salameh is an explorer, inspirational speaker, fundraiser, and author, publishing his first book in 2016, Dreams of a Refugee.
So, what was it that compelled this man, born under the most disadvantaged of circumstances, to rise above his hardships to achieve a level of accomplishment; only to pursue an even more unthinkable path?

Within each of us, there are two personas. One is our outer persona, the one we present to the world. That is the persona that goes to work every day, gets married, raises a family, and puts forth the projection of who we are…to our families, to our bosses, and to our communities. Within most of us, that persona is ambitious, of sound character, well-motivated, and enjoys varying degrees of success and happiness. That persona is generally governed by our heads and our egos.

Then, there is our inner persona. That is the part of us that author and coach, Michael Neill, calls our inner GPS. It is the part of us that dreams, that ponders, that engages in self-talk expressions like, ‘What if…’, or ‘One day, I’m going to….’, or ‘I would love to…’. It is that part of us that is governed more by the heart. It gives us a more idealistic view of what we would like our world to be, or should be, or even could be.

While our outer self is governed and measured largely by the pursuit of external successes or accomplishments, such as status, or titles, or material wealth, our inner self is driven more by idealistic dreams. It is measured more in terms of pursuits of joy and fulfillment.

For those of us who are busy making a living, raising a family, or the other pursuits of everyday life, that part of us usually only comes out at night, when our outer persona has retired for the day. We re-live imaginary conversations… with our bosses, with our spouses, or with real or imaginary lovers. We even have those conversations with ourselves. They sound like, ‘If I were in charge, …’, ‘The world would be a better place if…’, or, ‘If I could afford it, I would…’.

That was me. I had those audacious day dreams that were so far away from the realm of reality. They usually centered around winning Olympic gold medals or building huge business enterprises.

For many of us, those dreams remain dormant. They come to us as faint drum beats, but the sounds are typically muffled, or drowned out by the daily events of our lives. Like a rock band smothers the sound of the bass player. He is playing as an integral part of the band. But you have to really listen to hear the sounds. Unless there is a bass solo. Then it comes alive.

Our bass solos are generally few and far between. If they happen, they usually happen in the wake of unforeseen moments. They can come in the form of an inspiration, or some traumatic event, or, as in the case of Mostafa Salameh, in the form of a dream. It is in those moments when our inner persona comes out. When that moment occurs, we may try to suppress it. But sometimes, it becomes too powerful. The genie is out of the bottle. The bass player takes over the concert.
When that occurs, it comes with a vengeance. We become uber-energized. Our drive, our motivation, and our determination all go into overdrive. That is when we become passionate. We move into another orbit, one not previously known or recognized. We commit ourselves to do things that might have previously been considered, unthinkable. Our inner self has a power that is unknown to our outer self.

Mostafa Salameh, on his mission of reaching the Explorer’s Grandslam

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