There was a time when I thought I wanted to climb Mount Everest. I was watching “Everest” on the Discovery Channel and it looked glorious. Then I read Bear Grylls’ book, “Mud, Sweat, and Tears” and thought if he can do it after breaking his back, I surely can. I must climb Everest!
Why? Why would I want to risk death on a frigid mountain half-way around the world?
Most men have this thing; like … the man gene. Or the affliction of man. We need to trek, adventure, explore, discover, conquer, and accomplish great things at great risk. It burns inside us.
I remember an episode of “The Crown”, where Prince Philip got enamored with the whole moon landing thing back in ’69. He was taken in by the endeavor and accomplishment. He admired these astronauts as hero’s, almost godlike.
Around the same time, he was invited to sit with his clergy and talk about what these gents were experiencing; burnout as clergymen and discussing self-reflection in terms of their effectiveness and place in this world. Like a clergy mid-life crisis sort of thing.
Prince Philip got angry with them and told them that sitting around talking to one-another won’t accomplish a damn thing. They needed to do something; accomplish something. He said to the clergy, “Do you think that those astronauts up there are catatonic like you? Of course not. They are too busy achieving something spectacular and as a result, they are at one with the world. They are one with their god. And … happy.”
But, later in the episode, he had a chance to meet the astronauts in private and was very disappointed. These men were just guys and didn’t have the philosophical introspection he was looking for.
Like the clergymen, Philip was going through his own crisis, contemplating his role as prince, as a man, and his place in this world. A sense of purpose and accomplishment. A need to “conquer”.
The thing is … it doesn’t really go away. At the age of 3 or the age of 85, men are still men. We injure ourselves doing dumb shit. We lift things that are way to big and heavy, yet, we must.
And it’s not to show off. Not at all. It’s all on the inside. We must do this for ourselves. And even though we sometimes fail, get hurt, or screw up royally, it was worth the endeavor. Our scars have stories.
So, if not Everest or the moon, what then? Mini-Everests? Well …
Instead of literally risking life and limb, we can endeavor through some less death-defying accomplishments throughout life. Completing a marathon or an OCR, changing careers or landing that new position, learning and getting certified in something new, earn a black belt, yoga, or joining a wallyball league.
It’s about doing it to do it, and that is all; no strings attached. Because in truth, the answer isn’t out there. The answer is in our soul. Whatever we do outwardly is just the vehicle. The real adventure happens inward.
After almost four decades of martial arts, I began practicing yoga and became a certified/registered teacher. I continue to train, study, and research, going inward through outward effort to tame the affliction. However, I more than met my health insurance deductible last year, because of it. It’s a journey.
Whatever your yoga is, whatever the next mini-Everest, go do it. Get one with the world.