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Friday, August 4, 2017

"Confused By All The Choices"


"I grew up exuberant in body but with a nervy, craving mind. It was wanting something tangible. It sought for reality intensely, always (as) if it were not there. So I climb."  Letters From a Man, John Edwards

I was moved by fellow "wandering heart" blogger Juliet's last post, The Hole in our Heats. It began with a tone-setting quote by Thoreau, “...for my greatest skill has been to want but little.”
Why, by today's standards, it sounds almost un-American. Given when it was written, regular folk must have thought Thoreau daft.  


Early morning Red Mountain reflections on a calm Crystal Lake
Peculiar, that I stumbled across the following quote that very night after reading Juliet's Hole In Our Hearts. With nose buried in Krakauer's "Eiger Dreams, Ventures Among Men and Mountains," trying to read myself through a bout of insomnia brought on by CBS Evening News (which, FYI, in Scott Pelley's absence is hardly worth a look). Anyway, the quote was from ballsy, life-on-the-line-every-time-he-climbs mountaineer, Alan Burgess, about choosing to spend most of his time in Nepal: "I don't mind dirt-bagging it... I've actually come to prefer the Third World lifestyle. When I come back to the West now, I become confused by all the choices. You really feel the culture shock...the difference between a culture that has some depth and one that only thinks it has."  Ah ha, right there, in a nutshell, is the essence of what I took from "Young Juliet's" Hole In our Hearts post. She goes on to say... 



"I think a lot about a concept that I call 'the hole in our hearts.' I think of this aching absence as one of the inviolable truths that make the human experience what it is, categorically unique from other life forms... We are undeniably insatiable creatures. There is simply always more to be wanted and achieved. Happiness is painfully transient, especially in the world we find ourselves in today. The hole only seems to grow deeper...

So "ballsy" mountaineer Alan, even though he shuns the shallow Western consumeristic culture, still falls prey to Juliet's "undeniably insatiable creatures" equation...that states, there is simply always more to be wanted and achieved. You see, it's "achievement" that Alan wants...to finally rid himself of the insatiable demon that drives him to stand on Everest's lofty summit, even if the cost is life itself. 



I see it in myself, though, thankfully, my demon is not "Everest," nor anything remotely approaching it. No, I don't need an "Everest," my demon simply wants to climb. Although it goes by another name, it is the same dis-ease with life that Juliet sums so well in Holes: "Even in the midst of good things happening, sometimes we feel a quiet voice inside ourselves asking is this enough? Is this all there is?" 

Oh I've heard that "quiet voice," still do. 


Juliet's summation: "Honestly the fucking best we can do, little by little, is to aim for less attachment and expectation. It just happens to be one of those things that is easier said than done. Still...our will is so powerful, and If I didn't believe that the long, slow road of improvement was possible, I would have no reason to seek the highest version of myself." 


Maybe I'm too analytical, but here I am, smack dab in the middle of the "third act" of life, continuing to question and evaluate the choices I both made, and make, to distract myself from "the rat that gnaws inside," or, as old soul Juliet would say, "the holes in my heart." In the end, I only end up dissatisfied with my dissatisfaction, not knowing what to do about it other than continue on with the same old distractions that brought me to here and now...taking great pleasure in moving in the great outdoors. And though I expect no more, for mountains are more than enough, it would be difficult to live with less. 

If by chance there is some greater "purpose," it knows where to find me.
Until then, I climb...
  
























20 comments:

  1. Yes I’m pretty sure that nearly all the folks near him thought Thoreau was daft. He was always my hero. From the first time I read him in my teens. Seems everyone I know says their “student days” or whenever that they had next to nothing were the happiest of their lives. Thoreau was right. I feel it too. What more do we need than health and freedom of time? What hole are we trying to fill? Power and money don’t seem to do it. Those who step away, AT through hikers and Peace Corps returnees, have serious adjustment problems when they return to “real life”. Most wish they could stay away. I am struck in agreement with your “although I expect no more….It would be difficult to live with less”. For me that’s Less than the freedom of the road I now have. Moving on………That early morning Red Mountain photo is jaw droppingly gorgeous. Oh the wildflowers, oh the mountains. What a gorgeous place you live. What beautiful pictures you take of it as you are climbing your life away in pleasure. Thanks for this thoughtful post. Wish I could write as well.

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    1. Thanks Sherry... there is a nice level trail that goes right along the side of that lake, right next to the mountain... FYI. :))

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  2. Another beautiful hike but could not identify any part of it. I know you went south on 550 but you gave us no clue or familiar mt top view. Then the black & white picture felt like it was looking thru to Ouray and from the east , that really lost me, that was Ouray, right?
    Looks like a good night to be in by the fire, perched with your feet up surveying that awesome view.
    From a drizzly night in wine country

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    1. Thanks Sonoma Boys. Now you wouldn't want me to give away all our good secrets would you???
      Hints: That town in the black and white is Silverton... and the peak we bagged was "Ohio." :))

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  3. You will be remembered and loved when you depart someday, but hopefully not for a very very long time!

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  4. You certainly have positioned yourself well to keep distracted! Those flowers, those views, the many mountains to climb! That reflection photo is sublime.

    Wanting little but to be immersed in Mother Nature's beauty is a fine thing.

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    1. Speaking of "well positioned," Lisa, Lovely Ouray is only a few hours drive from Utah's glory and Arizona's warm winters. I did get lucky landing here :)

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  5. Really touched by your musings on that post. It brings a lot of comfort to know how much others relate. Perhaps the ache is a good thing at times, when the medicine for treatment is adventure pr the outdoors, something that grows our life bigger... still, as easy as it is for each of us to pass judgement on what others use to satiate that feeling, all it takes it experiences like boredom immediately after achievement, or injury that prevents adventure based solace, to see our own hole for what it is-an ever hungry beast! I loved and greatly relate to the ending... it would be torture to live with less, for too long.

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    1. Juliet,
      Thanks for allowing me to "go off" on your eloquent, heartfelt post...it touched a "nerve."
      The "hole" is indeed bottomless, so much better to fill it with experiences instead of "things."
      mark

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  6. Bobbie looks like she is about to burst out into song and sing the "The Hills Are Alive from the Sound of Music! The flowers look amazing! The rest of the scenery is not half bad either.

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    1. Come to think of it, she did hum a few bars :)

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  7. Damn,that's good stuff!

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  8. Thought provoking post and beautiful pictures. I am glad that, for now, your purpose is to climb because we all get to enjoy it with you. Those mountains look like they're covered in green velvet. Breathtaking.
    Julie Laverne (my middle name, BTW)

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    1. Thanks, Julie...
      So "Laverne" will always be with you, at least in namesake. Miss her comments...
      mark

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  9. Such wonderfully insightful words...Edwards, Thoreau, Juliet, Mark! My humble contribution is, "Climbing makes me high!" And lest I forget, the photos of your lovely "neighborhood" are always uplifting.
    ~ Annie

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