Whether It is Worth It or Not
Posted on: June 15, 2008
Whether it is worth it or not, you only come to know long after you have started the game.
Only when you have left everything behind... The last and lost roads where man-made means of conveyance can take you, the last pathways where diligent or hysteric four-legged porter friends are able to step, the last marked and then unmarked paths, the last slopes where birds still venture up, the last heaps of stones only humans can struggle themselves up to â€" before beginning an arduous trudge on cracking ice â€" the last somewhat secure solid ground below your feetâ€¦ Only when you will have left behind even the insecure grounds of snow with black hollow spaces opening in treacherous crevasses and whatever comes afterwards, still offering you some place for your ice axes and for the front spikes of your cramponsâ€¦
You have to leave behind everything that has to do with horizontal in order to meet with horizon itself. The last few meters, the end of it will at last make you realize whether it was worth doing. By the time the exposed trackless route into the sky itself has taken toll on your entire being, by the time the rarefied air hardly can quench your gasping lungs, by the time a nameless, discrete grace from beyond the veils of headache and muscle pain helps you higher on till your eyes literally reach the level of the ridge and by the time you get the first glimpse of all that is behind this ridge, you will surely know that it is well worth it.
This may be the most breath-taking moment and it may come before you can plant both your feet on the summit or before you can sit on it as in a saddle. The moment when you first get to see what is beyond the ridge-curtainâ€¦ At first you see only summits emerging above the facing valleys, then glaciers and entire mountain ranges as the totality of a valley or of a wide labyrinth of valleys reveals itself beneath your feet.
This is the precious moment you are initiated in views the other side can offer, a sheer second before you instinctively prevent yourself from stepping further out on the edge. Oh, yes, watch out as it may only be a brim of blank snow that may break down below your weight and may take you into the void... If you have consciously lived a moment like this in its full intensity, you know that the happiest moment of a climb and the moment of standing on the absolute top do not necessarily coincide even if they usually are connected.
It's worth the trouble, now you know. To accomplish the journey, you make the final ritual steps, until nothing more is above you. Here you may do the rest of your personal ceremonials, you may feel proud or lonesome, may smile or may cry, may be overconfident, may cherish self-indulgence, may be grateful or forgetful, may be a hero copied from magazine covers or may be just your humble self...
â€˜Here man can visit, but cannot liveâ€™, writes Sri Aurobindo when talking about the higher regions, the worlds above our mind's understanding. So true, in the physical and geographical sense, too. You are standing at the place you so much yearned for, you so much strove for. And your only reward is a drift of cold wind splashing icy crystals in your face. Eventually a piece of chunky chocolate or some lukewarm tea still left in the bottom of your thermos. In the very last case, a thought of God, with the slight hope that God is also thinking of you exactly at the same momentâ€¦
You are standing at the place that once became your goal, your motivation, your raison dâ€™Ãªtre, your driving force, your obsession... And you are only halfway! The same arduous way is again ahead of you, you ought to get down where you started from. Down. Well, thatâ€™s where you really belong to. The realm you can inalienably claim as yours is down there, love it or not. It is for them, and for your tiny self down there that you are doing all this, you better admit it. It is not for some whimsy gods dwelling on imaginary or real ridges of the inaccessible space that you are pushing yourself on and on, groping for the limits of your endurance. It is for the sake of all that is down there and for someone who craves within you to know what is it like, up here, in a realm seemingly ever inaccessible for the common mortal.
You are only halfway! You have to get down, back to the dreams that implemented themselves in and through you. You have to go down again, to dream new dreams and to unfold the fulfilled ones to onlookers. You have to share the gift divine. Yet, you cannot bring them snowflakes, neither pebble... What will you take from the ridge where you met the sky close up?
Take them the sky itself. It is living in your eyes now, once you tasted its vastness, it never leaves your regard. Once you had a mouthful of infinity, its taste will permeate every wish of yours. Once you walked high above the clouds, it is the unfathomable blue depth of space that will make your heart its abode. Share this with those down there. Take care, you are only halfway... But you have the entire sky in you to confirm that it was worth striving.