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Don't be an A$$h0l3


Mountains against a dusky sky.
Mt. Blanca, one of Colorado's "14ers".

“Taking a trip for six months to get in the rhythm of it. It feels like you can go on forever doing that. Climbing Everest is the ultimate and the opposite of that. Because you get these high-powered plastic surgeons and CEO's, they pay $80,000 and have sherpas put the ladders in place and 8000 feet of fixed ropes and you get to the camp, and you don't even have to lay out your sleeping bag. It's already laid out with a chocolate mint on the top. The whole purpose of planning something like Everest is to effect some sort of spiritual and physical gain and if you compromise the process, you're an asshole when you start out and you're an asshole when you get back.” - Yvon Chouinard, 180 South


I’ve come back to this quote several times in the last few years, when things are bumpy. We’re not all literally trying to climb Everest, and we aren’t all actual mountain climbers, but Yvon Chouinard’s quote fits life itself. We all have encounters with Everest-like things. Things are steep or hard, and we focus on the outcome. Our thoughts focus on, “when this is over,” “when this is better,” or what comes next.


We forget that sometimes the trip, the climb, the hills themselves are part of whatever point. They may be the point. Our desired outcome may be something specific, like taking a trip, but it’s the path toward that which bears out the fruit of lessons, inner knowing, and finding things we didn’t know we misplaced. If we just get everything we want or imagine without any effort, without the climb, we aren’t changed in any way by what it is that we’re doing. It means we just wanted it for the sake of wanting. (And that sounds like a waste of time to me, honestly).


On a recent trip where I had a clear plan for how things *should* go, they did not at all go that way. I learned a lot of things, I had a pile of experiences in trying to get to that desired outcome I had in mind that were pretty valuable to me now that I’ve had some time to sift through it. That's another blog post for another day.


The process of sifting is unique to each person, but some excellent starting questions are:


What did I learn from this?

What did this say about me?

What did I learn about myself?

What did I learn about other people involved?

What did I experience that was hard but now may help me better understand something or someone else?

Now that its finished (or just different), am I changed in anyway/will I look at any situations or people in new ways?

What was good even though it didn’t go how I wanted it to go?

What’s been good even when things have been bad?


This isn’t to say that some things aren’t just plain awful or that sometimes we don’t just feel awful. We do. That deserves compassion, care, and kindness. It also deserves some leaning into; some, “What do I truly understand because of this experience that I might not otherwise understand? And how might that understanding benefit me or others I meet on life's journey?”


I know some amazing people who are truly beautiful because they've climbed some Everests. I think I've been able to help some people because I've climbed a few. What about you?






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