The Beauty Of Choice And The Depth Of Now
Word after word, situation after situation and feeling after feeling – life goes on like a continuous wave that we can be on top of, under or behind.
I have been writing loads of words this autumn, but I have felt that they (the words) have been for me alone. Isolation from distraction seems like the best healer for my soul, and just letting the words come and the situations happen appears to stitch up the tiredness and those indefinable pieces of my soul that broke this autumn.
Yoga by the rivers of mother Ganges, Canadian and Japanese powder, family holidays, guide courses and an everyday mountain life around the Chamonix Mountains – I feel good now.
I don’t want to dwell, nor do I want to teach. I just have a few tiny concepts that I’ve learnt or maybe relearnt these last months. They have been growing on the side of my thought stream just like moss grows on the old murky logs next to a forest trail.
We have to get on with our lives whatever happens. It sounds so definite, and sometimes we want to respect others by choosing to feel bad, but that is a choice, nothing more and nothing less.
I have during many parts of my life been in incredible pain, and even though I scream like a newborn baby, I just have to deal with it. There is no-where to hide and after a period of screaming the pain seems to fade away to the outskirts of attention and instead comes a peaceful space of nothingness upon this world. It`s like another level of being glued upon this one. Pain can actually make us travel worlds in an instant. The point is no hippie crap (don`t worry, I love hippies), it`s pure subjective science, if in doubt, try it. My point got pushed aside a bit here, because what I’ve learned is that whatever happens we will deal with it. And usually how we deal with it, how we feel and what we think about it is a choice we can learn to make (although the cause and effect is in the reverse order).
The second thing I’ve learnt is that: where we are at this moment is the deepest and most sophisticated, beautiful and incredible place where we can be. We can try to search escapism, and when we are daydreaming, then that’s fine, but where we are is amazing. And if it isn´t, then change the opinion or the situation, both are most often extremely doable.
You can choose to see a friend`s death as something tragic or something beautiful. You can choose to believe what you like on what happen after death. You can choose to create whichever reality you like. So then create a reality that you like!
We create whatever we want and we are totally free to do so. You are free to believe and think whatever you want about this short text. But it would be comically stupid if you created some negative thoughts around it.
An interesting thing to think about is: If it happens to be so that we are able to create our own reality, then the person that believe so and the person that don’t are both right.
During a traumatic experience crystals of life within get crushed and we need to heal. The words used are only lights to lead the way, but the message is subjectively true. We need to rest, we need friends and we need love.
Then comes the dealing with thoughts and creation, and that is where we are dealing with choice, the crossroad of darkness and light.
I’ve learnt a few things the last few months; Life goes on and how we want it to go on is a choice and even if we want to escape, there is no-where to escape so we might as well make right now awesome.
I was living in an animated reality. It helped me realize that the sign over there, the rock and the tree were as much alive as I am at every given moment. If the movement of time were to be stopped, I would be as static as metal, a rock, or a plant. Lying here slobbering on my pillow just like in a photo.
When time give life to things the rock probably don’t even notice me in the same way as I’m not noticing other realities on other frequencies that are to fast for myself to take in. Reality seems to work that way, and even though infinite actions are taking place in every instance I only experience that which I’m sensing right now.
An animated fox was leading me through the world, introducing me to the spirits.
I’ve always wanted to talk to spirits, so I had uncountable questions to them, asking them the secrets of the universe. They gave me nothing but childish answers, and I dubbed them stupid.
The fox got upset and roared at me in anger. Who was I to judge them? The plants, as he saw it, the wisest of all the spirits of the universe, was living in perfect balance with the world – and I dubbed them stupid, just because they couldn’t put beauty in to a flat order of words. You can be a poet in many ways, he said, but the most beautiful one is the poetry of action.
Look at yourself he said: an amateur of words and a child of action, and you call them stupid?
Mr. Fox took me back to his house, which was located on a pole on a meadow, and he left me down on the grass as he went up to sit on his balcony. He left a string of cord in between us as some kind of visible connection. And there we sat. Things changed, sceneries changed and he disappeared in the changes. The only thing I had left was that cord in my animated hand. The dream became a dream in the dream and ended up as a grain of sand in a dessert. Every time I look at the memory it changes, and I’m not sure if it changes automatically or because I sometimes take a look at the drawer in my mind, but I guess it doesn’t matter.
For me the massage of the story is that; in between haze and normality lays clarity sometimes hidden. This is not a clarity filled with substance and answers, it’s more just a word in itself and an out-blow of relief in a never-ending search for something we long ago forgot what it is.
The Necessity Of Cycles
When I was younger I used to try to follow my passion with 100% focus every day, all year around. On my biggest seasons, after I had quit school, I averaged around 300 to 340 ski days per year, travelling between the seasons in the Alps, the north of Sweden and Australia; ski bumming, training skiing skills, guiding heli skiing and ski touring as well as coaching clients and instructors. I love skiing, but back then I think it was more like an obsession.
I learnt a lot about myself, ski technique and the mountains, but I got to pay with hitting the wall, a hospital résumé longer than most I know and a body ageing way faster than normal.
Then I turned to the real mountains, and instead of focusing on ski technique I plunged in to the strategy, philosophy and adventures among snow, ice and rock. I started living for the next day’s venture, and for every day I learnt something new and also stepped the level up step by step. I was on the same path as before, and my body, mind, injuries and accident followed in the same way as before.
Slovenian alpinist legend Tomo Cesen once said that that; after every great challenge he has done he always pause, draw back and rest his mind for some time before he takes on a new task. This is as to not get speed blinded by high difficulties, loose the fear and respect that comes with a worthy challenge and to not get carried away by success. When you have accomplished a task, you normally want more, you get confident, probably remember what was hard as easy and then risk pushing it too far.
In steep skiing (and mountain activity in general) it’s alarmingly easy to get used to, and loose the respect for, exposure (both for objective as well as subjective). If you are skiing the steeps every day you will sooner than later start feeling that extreme slopes are not much harder than walking on a sidewalk. And it might be percieved to be so, but then again, my hardest beating I have got this year was taking a fall on a sidewalk in Stockholm on an ice patch covered by a bit of fresh snow.
We need to be confident to be able to perform according to our potential, but we also need respect and fear as our companions to stay around enjoying the mountains in the years to come.
Cycles help us keeping the sacred balance in between these opposites that might be key to survive the mountain environment. They of course also help us keep the balance between rest and training and in the keeping of our egos in place.
But also, on the big whole the game of cycles serves us up with the contrasts that are defining life. Without darkness we wouldn’t see light, without a pause from what we love we wouldn’t acknowledge how much we love the things we do.
For me, allowing, accepting and recognizing; this dance of doing and not doing is one of the most important thing in a mountain life, if not in life in general.
In my line of work I have had to learn how to see things as they are, meaning I have to cut through the veil of feelings that’s coming in to existence to just be in this moment of action-reaction.
In that place things are easy and clean cut like a hospital ward. Life’s easy there because it’s a land beyond thought. I don’t have to ask myself about the risk I take, I don’t have to ask myself about the value of my life and I definitely don’t have to get in to the question of happiness. None of these concepts exist in the hard and clean-cut world of rock, flesh, ice, snow, warmth and cold.
But to get depth in to existence one has to travel in between this world of action into the world of thoughts. It’s the only way for the actions to reflect themselves, stick to something and become reflections.
The risk of getting stuck in the world of thought is that, if you’re there for too long, you’ll only have thought to think about – reflections reflecting upon them self in to infinity. Reality becomes blur, genuineness and clarity get lost.
Value is something complicated. In economics value is that which does not exist in big quantity and have a great demand. We usually strap this same idea on to our everyday lives in our search for value in life.
Most truly intelligent people in the western world would agree that a valuable way of life does not depend on money when the basic (western) needs are satisfied.
I define happiness as being present in this moment of action, in other words being in the first clean-cut world I was describing firstly. To keep things easier to follow I define value in life as the amount of memories and reflections of these happy moments.
Sitting in a cave like hostel room in the Argentinian countryside, the things I find most valuable in my life is not the memories of ski descents I have done, even though I stay there for a glimpse and marvel on the escapistic reality I’m blessed to live. No, I feel the value in the small moments of interaction between myself and other human beings.
I see in front of me the touch of love from my girl, or that instant when time stops when two lovers eyes meet. I dwell in the instant caress when she touches me at the kitchen table just passing the room, her finger touching my neck. I get stuck in the warm hug or in the making of love.
I see the countless facial expressions of friends in joy from powder days, sharing the mutual feeling that we are truly having a great experience. Those memories are by far greater and more valuable than the actual turns we made or the depth of the fallen snow.
I can go on and on talking about countless memories of love and joy in human interaction, and I probably will in future posts, but I leave it there for now. I’m just, in this moment, very happy to have had the chance to live my life in the way I have had and that I have been able to share it with all the great people that have crossed my path.
For me, value lies in the interactions between lovers, family and friends. I sure hope I will learn to truly live this truth out in action…
Just one more thought. If we have the world of action and the world of thought as two worlds divided (I divided them earlier to simplify the text), what, then, happens when we are thinking of an action? Isn’t that an action in itself? This is where the world starts to spin – this is where the rabbit hole begins.
When as a boy I read the stories of Swedish climber Göran Kropp and his adventures (including riding a bike from Sweden to Nepal and then climbing the highest mountain in the world) I was stunned.
I read about his adventures and from then on I started sleeping many nights in my sleeping bag on the side of my bed on the floor with the window open. The adventure was on and I could not see any other way to live my life.
Back then I was stuck in the fully conceptualized way of thinking where I drew a line between myself and the others – the people who realized their dreams. My grand intent was, luckily, to smash all walls and limits I could possibly find – but still I drew a line in between them, the people who, in my world were free, and myself. I think I gave them mystical powers of strength as well as physical, mental and economical standards.
Fifteen years later I know from my own experience that the people I used to look up to where not really stronger than anyone else – they had just been following their dreams.
Before I would have said the end, but nowadays the end mean something completely different to me and now I’m satisfied saying that they have just taken their dreams a little bit further than the normal, met their fear a little bit more than the average person.
The end means something completely different to me now. I have so many of my friends who have taken their quests to the end that society calls death, that I sometimes have a hard time appreciating the value of “taking something to its end” and to give it the right proportions.
I’m not even sure I believe in the normal concepts of life and death any more. What’s what, and which is which, and which is that? I have visited many worlds and from some vantage points, what we keep as things important and serious just seem like a game of sticks and stones between kids.
What society view as sane is only accustomization to what’s widely seen as the normal. And with “the normal” means only having the normal fears, normal views of reality, normal limitations and so on of any ordinary person who have experienced something normal in life.
Society, though, is slowly changing its vantage point to the one of the rebels of its own self. The rebels are never acknowledged in their own time (at least not in their own youth, with a few exceptions) but it’s always their breakthroughs in consciousness that tomorrows reality will be built upon.
So what are we going to do with the gems of truth we find among the ice, rock and snow on the mountains? What are we going to do with the small satoris we experience on our everyday adventures? What can we do?
What can we do if not just enjoy them and share them with our friends? From one point of view they are only childish escapistic and romantic games we play. From the other end of the scale they are the very reason we are alive, the great meaning to life.
So what’s next in line? What are the worthy adventures to follow to their ends? And what is really the end – can we ever get there – to the end?
For me, the next thing in line is to try to normalize a life not normal. I don’t mean that I need to normalize it to someone else’s standards, but I need to do it for my self. I need to find a platform on where I can live, love and grow in harmony with my self, my family and friends. I have met death, and I have come back and I have also met life and come back from that. Where can I take these extremes on the scale (as we know it) and find coherence? Where can I out of this coherence still get the depth in a life built of opposites?
Yes, I hear my own thought threads; every question leads to another question, but maybe, sometimes, questions are the moving answers that we are searching for. They are alive, where I imagine the final answer would be a dead one – its killing the feast, it takes the curtains away.
The worthy adventures of the future will be the ones that invite uncertainty to the table together with beauty and esthetics on the other side. And at the other end of the table there have to sit an unanswered question. This is how I imagine a good adventure.
It have to be uncertain, because for me, things that are static are not alive and if an adventure is certain (success, risk, reward etc.) it can be done purely in ones mind – it would not be worth using the playground of this world to expand our consciousness and go out in it and play.
It has to have beauty and be esthetic because that, I think, is one of the secrets to life. I’m not just say that it just has to be a beautiful mountain, river, wilderness, wall or something you can grip. It can also be beautiful in its own execution, like alpine style ascents of big mountain faces are, in my mind, some of the most beautiful things that exist on this earth.
A good adventure also has to have an unanswered question because that, when pure, is the engine of the whole feat. The adventure has to answer the questions to the likes of: where I brave enough? Did I have enough heart? Or skill, or strength, or experience? Or just some other questions that could be found deep within!
Then comes the question what the end is? In normal mountain adventures the goal and the end is usually the same thing. We are going to climb this or that route on this or that mountain and if we are succeeding in the objective, we did it in clean means and if everyone is back safely its usually taking this particular adventure to its end. But then, the mountain people, or maybe it’s a human thing, however, we seem to have a passion for doing what we do in general; for example climbing mountains. And taking this passion to its end is much harder to define, but maybe my friends that have perished, perhaps that’s what they did?
I can’t though, avoid the question what “the end” really means.
It’s the death of something, that’s pretty clear. Even though the word “death” really means the ending of a biological organism, I feel like we can use it as, for example, the death of a dream, death of a vision and so on – An ending to something.
I think it’s impossible to not be a mystic when it comes to talk about any important question. Mysticism, really meaning going beyond words in to one’s own personal experience.
But how can we experience something that will be the end of ourselves and subsequently our own experience? Using words, either everything will stop and we will not experience anything – or the experience will continue and we will experience more…
For anyone with an assemblage point not totally stuck in the “normal” way of thinking there is, to say the least, hope for the future. But that’s not where this thread of thought is going at this moment.
It’s going to continue on the “going to the end” and “what the end is” and its not going to uphold itself with what’s behind the curtains.
For me, to take something to its end is to live every aspect of it fully, whatever that might be. It does not have to do at all with biological death. If one is interested in skiing, well then ski till you don’t want to ski any more. Be smart, don’t get injured, sick or kill your self while doing it. Back of when needed, because “perseverance is favorable” as the old proverb, states. But still ski, till you break on through to the other side!
The same goes with food, climbing, career, love or anything else, where living it through is the only way to take it to its “end”.
So this is where I am right now. In some ways I feel like I have lived my own dream of skiing, as it where, through, and now its time for the next step. How am I to live the middle age skiers life (a life of a skier is definitely counted differently than a normal life) where many of my old powerful dreams of the past are lived through, where I need to preserve and renew what’s left of my body, where most of the friends of old have quit or are gone and when motivation and enthusiasm does not come as easily.
Well, then its time for new adventures! Its time to use the knowledge and experience gained by time to realize the biggest of dreams and even the dreams I didn’t dare to dream before. Its time to take a step back on some places where I have nothing to gain but still take two steps forward where my dreams and ambitions are pointing, saying; “live this life, live this chance, live what’s here because here and now is the only thing that is”. What the consequences of this dream will be, I don’t know, but what ever happen – if I don’t follow it through it will come with regret and what would be the reason to dream at all, if I don’t follow these magical dreams through”?
Through, to the other side of that wall or that curtain, through, to the next adventure to come. Because if I don’t want to learn and live this adventure to its end, it will repeat itself till I’m happy to learn. But, by then, the risk is that the adventure that was supposed to be magic will just be executed in routine – its opposite.