obstacles

Poem – Beast

Do each of us have a monster inside
a beast we strive to hide from the
world, those close we love, and from our self?

At the end of each day
what are we truly running from?

What shadows lurk in the forest
and what shadows do we carry?

Across the fields with scattered snow
mountains rise from the earth

in spires of solid granite,
nearly featureless – how will

this barrier be overcome?

Standing at the base of the mountains
what hope I brought here

disperses on the cold wind
scouring the surface of the empty fields,
those fields I left behind years ago
when the beast chased me away.

Poem – Obstacles

A river with no bridge.

A road with no direction.

A forest with no path.

A mountain with no steps.

What obstacles stand in your way?

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Film – Meru (2015)

I finally watched the documentary film “Meru” about a first ascent of the Meru Peak via the Shark’s Fin route up the central peak.  For anyone interested in mountain climbing, overcoming obstacles, and the human spirit, this is an excellent film with gorgeous cinematography.

One last look before bed. Renan Ozturk checking out the stars above basecamp the night before the approach to the base of the route.  Copyright Jimmy Chin.

One last look before bed. Renan Ozturk checking out the stars above basecamp the night before the approach to the base of the route. Copyright Jimmy Chin.

Essay – Guides and Turning Points

How did I get here? An important question I throw into the air while reading, writing, and drinking coffee on a cold morning with early sunlight across the fields.

In this current state of being, I awoke a few years ago after sleep walking through most of my life and leaving my path up to others, letting go of control.

It is simple and easy to look outside of yourself for direction and answers, and others are more then willing to lead and take you where they want you to go. I let this happen and my life was just a passing shadow, a fading glimpse of what could be and what I already was beneath the surface. Where was I really and truly? Where was he hiding, how could I find him, and the most important and challenging question: how to become aware that I was NOT being my true self?

The day to day struggles, emotions, and experience build upon others, all figuring into the outward person you are, the one we walk around with. What does this build within? How and what do these experiences build on the inside?

As they build on top of others, the layers push further away from a central point, diluting and diminishing the light, the lantern that is within. I had not seen my light, my lantern since before I was born, wandering a different place. Somehow I knew it was there, I had a vague and distant pain that this not my first time here. That there was more, but I was confused and unsure of what I was feeling and what I would see in dreams. I felt lost in one regard, and in another I was angry that I was unable to unlock the secrets deep within.

Like flotsam carried downstream beneath bridges, past cities, and into valleys before washing out to sea.

Whether intentional or not, we attract others that align or sense the energy that we give off, those vibrations that consume our thoughts and essence. I was searching each minute of each day, and that was what my life had become at that point. In this spiritual emptiness, I had become vulnerable, listening and latching onto anyone that said the right words, that seemed to be genuine, interested, and in some ways an equal, even if I did not believe or feel that way.

Further lost in the sea, the dark depths swallowed everything I saw.  Any glimpse of light vanished, any indication of land or solid ground, gone.

Until I met you.

I felt reborn and the darkness began to clear as you chipped away at the layers and stone scattered across my field. Your stories of things beyond here, of experiences from previous lives meant I was not alone, that what I felt was real.

Finally, someone to walk the golden shoreline, hand in hand as we watch the sunset and the calm sea.

From your guidance I realized the reality I desired, the control I had, and the answers within. I saw this current life as a field, and my experiences manifested as objects, tokens, and cairns. How we navigate that field, what we keep, and what we discard, determine the reality and the life we live.

I now see with more clarity the guides that I come into contact with, and know which are real and which are not.  I now see the stone cairns I have left for myself from previous and future lives.  I now walk this field with an ever-growing awareness of myself and the path I will take.

Golden Sunrise

Golden Sunrise

Training and Colorado

With just 3-weeks to go until ice climbing training in Colorado and less than 5-months until Mt. Rainier, training is intensifying. I was planning to workout each day in February as a test to see where I am at. Of course, a couple of days have turned into “off” days. I try to make up the time on the other days. Overall the goal is 5-hours per week on a treadmill with varying speed and incline; 3 or 4 walk/runs with the dog (who is in heaven); and weights a couple of times. I think the most important change will be to start wearing a backpack while on the treadmill and gradually work up to 40 or 50 pounds in it to simulate some of the physical conditions of Mt. Rainier.

So far my back is holding up, with some resistance to getting out of bed in the morning, I figure that is a good test for summit day, to get up and out early despite the soreness, and push any limits further beyond anything I have been up against.

I have been reading more Zen texts, poetry, and the life of some masters. Reading Zen Master Ryokan has helped me to focus not only on the goal, but also beyond the pain and soreness. Sometimes it really is mind over matter, and if we just get over one of those humps or mountains, see what is waiting on the other side, we realize that we can push further and that it was worth it. From that we have more energy and a positive state of mind to reach and overcome the next obstacle.

Obstacles

Rain has fallen the past two days. What snow we had is gone. Replaced with last year’s grass, sand, and mud, the yard is crunchy and slippery. The sun rises over naked rooftops, and bare branches reflect the light. An odd mixture of the winter month and the scent of spring. I hear bird songs. Yesterday while walking the dog to a local park, the small pond had opened enough to allow water to the surface with an icy bottom. A raft of 6 ducks arrived from the east and landed in the cold, icy water.

The wind is strong and leftover leaves tumbling across the deserted soccer field, their consistent sound echoing between the houses, are a reminder that this natures house and we are guests.

Even though winter is paused today, I feel more at home here, then in the stronghold of winter or spring. Fall is a close second with the artist’s palette that nature chooses to paint with. But there is nothing like snow and ice, and the absolute cold fingers that reach for you, and the instinct we run with to look inside for warmth. Winter is truly the season of awareness, and in its depths, I truly feel alive.

I am reminded of the work I have been doing, most importantly around fear and what prevents me from moving forward, and getting out of my comfort zone. What better way than to tackle a mountain, regardless of the outcome. I have realistic expectations, and will be happy with any outcome, as long as I push myself and come away with a new experience, and come out as a better person than I was the day before.

Mountains loom in every direction when standing in the middle of an empty field. There are two choices from within the dark shadows: cower beneath the lessening light, or climb the mountain and emerge on the other side of the obstacles.

Obstacles

Rain has fallen the past two days. What snow we had is gone. Replaced with last year’s grass, sand, and mud, the yard is crunchy and slippery. The sun rises over naked rooftops, and bare branches reflect the light. An odd mixture of the winter month and the scent of spring. I hear bird songs. Yesterday while walking the dog to a local park, the small pond had opened enough to allow water to the surface with an icy bottom. A raft of 6 ducks arrived from the east and landed in the cold, icy water.

The wind is strong and leftover leaves tumbling across the deserted soccer field, their consistent sound echoing between the houses, are a reminder that this natures house and we are guests.

Even though winter is paused today, I feel more at home here, then in the stronghold of winter or spring. Fall is a close second with the artist’s palette that nature chooses to paint with. But there is nothing like snow and ice, and the absolute cold fingers that reach for you, and the instinct we run with to look inside for warmth. Winter is truly the season of awareness, and in its depths, I truly feel alive.

I am reminded of the work I have been doing, most importantly around fear and what prevents me from moving forward, and getting out of my comfort zone. What better way than to tackle a mountain, regardless of the outcome. I have realistic expectations, and will be happy with any outcome, as long as I push myself and come away with a new experience, and come out as a better person than I was the day before.

Mountains loom in every direction when standing in the middle of an empty field. There are two choices from within the dark shadows: cower beneath the lessening light, or climb the mountain and emerge on the other side of the obstacles.

Why Mt. Rainier?

Why climb Mt. Rainier?  There are other more accessible, and lower height peaks that could be attempted?  So why a mountain that on average has 2 deaths per year, one of the largest amounts of snowfalls, and many glaciers?  I first got the idea from reading “No Shortcuts to the Top”, by Ed  Viesturs.  A candid memoir, it recounts his quest to climb all 14 8,000 meter peaks, without the use of supplemental oxygen.  One thing that is appealing is setting a goal, and doing whatever it takes, rearranging your life to work toward this goal. Of course there are always setbacks and obstacles, but what is key is how respond to them, and our next steps: do we back down, walk away, or pick ourselves up and try again.

Ed guided for RMI Expeditions for many years, and still does on occasion.  Because of the stories he told in his memoir of Mt. Rainier and the surrounding areas, I decided this would be my first attempt, and choose to go through RMI.

This presents many challenges physically, mentally, and spiritually that I fear and look forward to.  Will I know the person on the other side, the descends from the peak?  Will I let the fear grow too much, and get in the way?  Will Mt Rainier allow me to summit, and a moment to reflect on the life I brought to the top, and how much will I be abel to with me back home? WIll this one climb be enough to satisfy the hunger for adventure, and the allure of the bug mountains stretching forever across the sky?  Like Alaska that I think about every day, will the mountains take over each day?