Prescript: Some days you watch the sunset on a prehistoric pillar in a UNESCO world heritage site, other days you find yourself bawling your eyes out in a cloud of mosquitoes, in the middle of nowhere, in a country where you can’t even understand the alphabet. You’re tired. You’re lonely. You want to go home. This life is a waste of time.
Then you write something like this. Feel a little better. Get up the next day and start again…. Read Time: 5mins
I like to say “I’m happiest when in motion”. This is only because when I’m in motion I’m absorbed by the action of being. I focus only on the immediate future. Only on the next 1000m of vertical metres I have to climb. Only on how much some part of my body hurts. Only on the art of ignoring my laboured breathing. Only on how much I don’t want to fall to my death in this shitty couloir.
But in reality none of it matters. I doesn’t matter if I suffer to the top of some 4000m peak none of my family or friends have heard of. Or if I run 100km non stop. It doesn’t matter if I do it today or tomorrow or Tuesday 2027. Nobody cares, nobody cares but me. And the only reason I care is because I need to be distracted from the fact I am doing nothing, going nowhere, and none of it matters. I find some solace in being in motion, in the moment, chasing some kind of absolution from self improvement by pushing myself to my limits and feeling as though I have cheated death every once and awhile.
But I am hounded by the existential angst of “what am I doing with my life?”
“Are you earning?”
“Are you learning?”
“Is what you are learning going to make you any money?”
“Are you helping anyone?”
Answer: I don’t think so.
“What are you doing with your life?!”
Answer: I really don’t know
I would love to find something I could be truly good at. Something I could obsess over. Unfortunately, I know I will never be a very good climber, skier, alpinist, runner or mountain biker. My genetic and mental make up means I have a below average VO2max and a high self preservation instinct. The two most limiting factors when it comes to mountain pursuits. But, I was born with enough ants in my pants that sitting at a desk staring at a computer would not put me at any greater peace, regardless of the price tag.
So I’m left in some kind of strange limbo. I find myself searching for something but I’m not sure what it is or even if it exists. I use exerting myself physically to lose myself from being lost. A complete first world crisis. A privileged persons dilemma. When we have all our basic needs met we are left searching for a purpose. A greater meaning. We suffer for the sake of suffering, just to know how it feels.
Even as I write this I struggle to find the sliver lining, the cliché required to form an uplifting blog that somehow justifies my unconventional lifestyle. That puts me back on the high-horse that seems to be ridden by so many outdoor enthusiasts. “Look at us out in the nature” we cry “aren’t we soooo much better than you city folk, with your lattes and newspapers”.
The truth is we are not. Unless you’re the top 5% advancing the sport, doing what nobody has done before, none of it matters and nobody cares. The truth is that all us “also rans” need purpose. We need to be needed. Whether it’s finishing another book, another drink, another climb we inherently set ourselves goals to achieve. Anything to give our little insignificant human lives meaning. And the truth is I don’t know what my purpose is right now. But I guess I’ll keep dreaming of climbing higher, skiing steeper, running further because maybe over that next horizon I’ll find what I’m looking for. Even though I know it doesn’t matter.
Postscript: Yesterday something really cool happened. The talented and lovely Jemma Balmer mentioned me on her blog. It gave me warm fuzzies and what not. It also made me see a little bit of a bigger purpose to my ramblings here and some of my life choices. Check out Jemma’s website for more insightful and thought provoking articles (jemmabalmer.com).