mens agitat molem | Mind Over Matter

[tweetmeme source=”@simonjcox” only_single=false do not work out in life the way you would like. I hoped to have had one last opportunity for a couple of mountain days recently before the imminent arrival of my baby, but unfortunately my walking partner withdrew through injury. So what do you do when something you want is snatched from your grasp? I think there are three things to draw upon in such a situation: passion, hope and perspective.

Ultimately, how passionate are you about what you do, whether it be work, play or otherwise? It depends how much it means to you. However, sometimes passion is destructive; mountaineering, for example, can mean too much to some. I read an article recently by Kev Shields, who, in his words, ‘was given the choice between love for a woman and selfish commitment to climbing, I chose climbing‘.(1) Passions need to be kept in check and be founded upon a broader context than just themselves. For me mountaineering exists in the context of my life and family, and family means more to me than mountaineering. That said, it is painful when I am forced to forego opportunities to be in the mountains.

Hope provides an answer to disappointment and pain; hope of things to come will see you through. In my current circumstance, birth and fatherhood are becoming greatly significant, in which a baby is symbolic of hope – the hope of new life contained in the nascent life that is to be lived and the choices and chances that are to be taken. Birth is a fresh start. This hope I write of is not a weak, passive strain, but an attribute forged through suffering, perseverance and character. Hope cannot be laissez faire, and mountaineering is all about hoping in calculated risks: the chance of good weather, a good handhold in a strenuous position, good progress over exposed, technical ground.

What is your perspective of those things which enliven you? Rock climbing, for example, seems to attract two breeds: the young who are fast and furious for glory and the mature, thoughtful and even-paced. Glory and competition can consume a mountaineer, causing him to lose the breadth of ingredients that contribute to make the sport so satisfying and rewarding. For me, my pursuit of mountaineering is a long term goal. I intend to take many years to refine my skills, experience, knowledge and love of it, love not just for the exhilaration of danger, but for involving my family, especially transferring understanding to my children. In no way will it be an individual pursuit, and I hope my perspective will always remain outside of myself.

So, this next period will be a time of reflection and pause for me, and if you find yourself at a stand still, maybe take the opportunity to re-evaluate your position. A bit of perspective in life is a powerful thing.

(1) Kev Shields. 2010. Break on Through. [Online] (Updated 14 May 2010)

Available at: [Accessed 23 May 2010].

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