"I know this mantra from other failures… The endless agonizing recycling of what might have been… followed by a litany of rationalizations and self-deceptions as I struggle to reconcile the void between the person I want to be and the person I fear I am." High Exposure… an enduring passion for Everest and unforgiving places, By David Breashears, Director and Leader of the Everest IMAX filming expedition.
A million years ago in high school, I fell in love with novels... devoured "suggested reading" lists like they were bags of Nacho Cheese flavored Doritos (a tormenting childhood weakness that haunts me to this day). Sometime in my late 40's, I noticed a slow, subtle shift toward nonfiction... journals and biographies of real people and real-life endeavors, like John Wesley Powell's journal. I was enthralled by the story of this intrepid, one-armed man's expedition to float the Colorado River through Grand Canyon's cavernous gouge in the earths crust.
I went on to read biographies of George Washington and other founding fathers, then to historical figures in general (not nearly as exiting, but enlightening). Now, I have another addiction to add to "Doritos," which is, any biography that has to do with dramatic events or acts of bravery that takes place in an outdoor setting... particularly adventures like climbing mountains, exploring polar caps, sailing big seas in little boats, and so forth.
I do not mean to disparage fiction (forgive me, Darin); I cut literary teeth on the likes of Faulkner, Hemingway, and Steinbeck, to mention a few. The last two were "contemporaries," and had an ongoing "tiff" with each other... or maybe "competition" is a better word. Men, you know.
Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" really impacted me as a senior in high school, second only to "To Kill a Mockingbird." Though "Grapes" and "Mockingbird" are works of fiction, they are solidly based on real-life events. The "hook" for me was, even though the characters were made up, I knew the events were real... the poverty, suffering, and death were truths. Perhaps "Grapes of Wrath" was the basis for my eventual migration to nonfiction.
I realize the same argument could be made for most works of fiction. After all, subject matter for novels is drawn from the lives and stories of real people. Alas, there is no such thing as writing in a "vacuum."
Thus, when I read this post's opening quote in David Breashear's real-life biography, "High Exposure," it was infinitely more compelling because I identified... not so much as an extreme outdoorsman, but with his struggle to overcome his childhood.
Breashears essentially and expertly leads readers on a "climb" up his "life's wall," through all the gritty emotional turmoil, training, sacrifice, loss, outsider loneliness, and the real life circumstance of watching fellow climbers get swept to their death, all because the mountain "shrugged." It must have been the culmination of emotional angst and brushes with death that led to his penning of that oh-so-powerful and insightful profundity at the top of this page.
Deft in prose, Breashears describes in detail the courage and dedication it took to rise to the top of his chosen path... the self-control required to suppress terror while clinging to a 3000 foot vertical wall of ice and rock one hundred feet above his previous anchor, one that was sketchy at best. But Ice picks and Crampon spikes are useless when the mountain shrugs; wrong place, right time. Goodbye. It begs the question: From what well does such motivation come?
As it turns out, positive things often spring from deep, dark wells. Breashears developed an insatiable drive to prove himself to a cold, indifferent military father, one who never expressed love nor pride in anything he ever accomplished. Such things must eventually come out of closets if we are to grow and reach our fullest potentials. They bear heavy tolls, particularly in relationships. Breashear's marriage failed because he loved mountains more than being loved, perhaps because he didn't know what love was yet... or perhaps because he was already married to the mountains. Maybe his marriage to a real person was just an "affair."
Some, perhaps most, have to overcome their "childhoods." I know this because I am one of them. In so doing I became adept at "rationalization," mastered the art of "self-deception" to the point of getting my own way with little guilt or consequence. Problem is, once one starts believing their own "lies," the "compass" has no "pole" to guide them home. It no longer knows "North."
When George Mallory was asked what motivated him to risk life and limb to order to climb Everest, he simply replied, "Because it's there." I would argue that, more often than not, it's the "demons" in our closets.
Bobbie and I explored Gooseberry Mesa's rim 3 times this year. The first time we drove to it with Jim, Gayle and Chris, via route 59 to Smithsonian Butte Road. Rose and Andre followed along and brought their bikes in order to cover more of the wonderful single track trails offered up there.
A couple weeks later Bobbie and I did it by ourselves, a long hike, right from the Rv park. The last time was with Maikel and Susan, and believe it or not, they are still friends :). With nearly a thousand feet of elevation gain, it's a real grunt. The worst part is extremely steep, loose, and pushes the limits of sanity. But oh the rewards. Walking the colorful, vertiginous rim with soaring 270 degree views is now one off our favorite things to do...
Peace out from Lovely Ouray, where it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Post Script: NOTE: IN THEIR INFINITE, GREED-DRIVEN WISDOM, THE LUNATICS AT BLOGGER REDUCED THE SIZE, AND THUS, RESOLUTION, OF UPLOADED PHOTOS FROM A FORMERLY CRISP 1600 PX DOWN TO A BLURRY 320 PX. THEREFORE, IN ORDER TO BETTER VIEW PHOTOS THAT ARE ACTUALLY IN FOCUS, PLEASE TAKE A SECOND AND VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD OR ANY PHOTO. I WOULD APPRECIATE ANY AND ALL FEEDBACK IN THIS REGARD, I.E., IF READERS NOTICE MORE CLARITY AMONG PHOTOS VIEWED IN THE ALBUM FORMAT AS OPPOSED TO THE BLOG PAGE. THANK YOU,
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