"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|
"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...