Liba Cunnings: A Woman of Great Courage, Perseverance, and Knowledge, by Kharla Albaran
It was an amazing experience to meet Liba Cunnings, a woman of incredible inner strength. Thanks to Enbridge and the Famous Five Speaker Series Committee, Holy Trinity’s Club Unlabelled got the chance to learn, grow, and dream as Liba shared her life with us; a life that has required much self-realization and understanding, both in her personal life and throughout her Himalayan journeys. She inspired a room full of women to embrace their inner strength and live a full life, regardless of past events.
Liba Cunnings lost everything she had when tragedy struck in 1986. She likened this experience to her move from Czechoslovakia as a refugee because she had to start over with her life once again. The fight to stay alive and to persevere was a struggle until 1999 when she was given the opportunity to go to Nepal for a trekking trip with fellow triathlon friends. Upon arriving in Nepal, she fulfilled her childhood dream of seeing the Himalayas. From the experiences that she had there, she found a way to cope with the events of her past, and it changed her life forever. As she witnessed the struggle of the poorest of the poor, she learned an important lesson. She realized that “bad things happen to you and you feel like you’re singled out, but you’re not the only one.” It was in this place, at this time, that she realized she is not going through life alone. It is a very comforting feeling to know that. For Liba, this first trek and all her subsequent ones are walking meditations; they have given her a whole new way of thinking. Through this meditative healing process, Liba has been able to carry on with her life. Her words, “And we have time, there’s always time for it, living the best way we possibly can” particularly resonated with me. No matter what has happened in the past, we can all do our best to live a full future. Liba took this idea as her motivation to help her Nepalese friend’s son discover his unrealized dream, even with the difficult circumstances that were troubling her own life. She didn’t set out to change someone’s life, but through simple compassion and the desire to live “the best way”, she did just that.
In today’s world, people get so stressed about the lack of time to work on things. It may be homework, projects or even life in general, but sometimes the culprit of such thinking is not the lack of time but the lack of focus. Liba reminded me that we all need to focus on the beauty that exists around us, and stop wishing our lives away. Most importantly, we need to focus on the people with whom we share our lives. Everyone longs not to be alone. The sheer understanding of knowing that you’re not alone brings comfort. This should enable us to stop worrying about the little negativities in life, and allow us to be more open to focusing on the important things. We must learn how to value time and ourselves in order to be satisfied amidst the shortcomings that occur in our lives. It is true that life can be difficult, but it is what we make of it once we take the leap of faith.