Why live a life that's perceived as mad?
Not every person is inspired to pursue a life deemed dangerous and
unsustainable by conventional society. I’ve chosen to follow such a
path, to venture to the far corners of the earth, spend time away from
comfort and safety, to push my body and mind to their very limits and
oftentimes beyond my own perceived potential. Those experiences are
not void of risk or danger. They are intrinsic and necessary
qualities of a life based on the pursuit of one’s passion. Some
dismiss such antics as crazy, reckless, ego-driven, and immature, but
I have to disagree whole-heartedly.
I am lucky to have found my passion at a young age. When I
discovered climbing it felt like a great realization. All of the
pieces of myself seemed to fit into this one activity. I remember it
felt both limitless and all-encompassing, a hopeful excitement that
climbing could endure anything life threw at me and never let me down.
It could last my entire existence and it still wouldn’t be enough.
Two decades later and that theory is still going strong. I’ve grown
constantly more mesmerized by this pursuit and how it has evolved and
changed with me as I’ve grown. My experiences while climbing - up
high on the side of a cliff, taking repeated heart-stopping falls
thousands of feet above the earth, or on a big peak with altitude
making me dizzy and ill, feeling alone and too far away from home, or
countless other scary and uncomfortable circumstances - Those are the
moments that have stuck with me, burned into my memory forever. Those
are the experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything. They created me as
I am, and I wouldn’t choose to live any other way. Throughout the
last 20 years, climbing has served as a constant companion and
humbling ego-check at times when I’ve needed it most. This way of
life continuously reminds me how to respect and appreciate risk, how
to accept and make sense of failure, and embrace suffering.
Without understanding risk, failure, and suffering, we cannot gain a
clear vision of ourselves and our limitations. Without that struggle
and fear we will never experience our full potential as human beings.
That’s what passion is. It is venturing to the metaphorical edge of
ourselves and peering over to see what we find - an innate internal
curiosity begging to be explored. These edges of personal
introspection can be examined in a variety of ways: creatively,
intellectually, artistically, or physically. No one form is more
right or true than the other. Some may call it madness, but I believe
life’s greatest and most worthy challenge is to find that curiosity,
and once it’s been found to keep looking over that edge and exploring
the potential hidden there.