Learning To Live In The Moment

You should always think about the future, however you should avoid worrying about the future. If the future is always at the forefront of your mind when do you think about the present, do you ever take the time to enjoy an experience, or appreciate the world around you? The answer most likely is no. We spend so much time overanalyzing and methodically plotting all of our decisions that we rarely ever enjoy the present. As a society we receive more joy from knowing that we might have some joy in the future, rather than enjoying our current experiences. For those of you who do not know, my favorite climber is Ueli Steck. The Swiss alpinist known for his daring alpine speed climbs in Europe, and in the Himalayas. I was watching a TV program Explorers that profiled Ueli’s famous speed ascents in the Alps. After climbing The Matterhorn he made a comment about living in the moment. Ueli said that when you are in a dangerous situation and all of your focus is on every action you make in the present, you are living in the moment.

Ueli’s comment perfectly sums up the way that I am trying to live my life. I try to do things that block out the stresses of life, my worries for the future, or problems I might be having socially. If you can block out everything that brings you pain, then you can find peace. To put things in perspective picture what I am about to tell you. You are going on a long run through the woods, the weather is nice, the temperature is mild, and you feel great. However you are running on a steep, rocky trail in the woods. In that moment what are you worried about? You are worried about your feet, where they are, how fast they are moving, and where they are going to be. When you are focusing on your run especially a technical run, you do not have time to think about anything else. You are extremely focused because you know that one slip is likely going to result in a twisted ankle. Now granted there is very little danger in this situation, you are very focused. If you are focused on something and that challenge is constantly shifting then you are living in the moment. Now this is a stressful situation but it is good stress. In moments like this you are happy. Not to mention your happiness is coming from something real, something you just did. Your joy is not coming from something that might happen in the future. Moments like this are the key to life.

As some of you may know last week my Grandfather died, he died peacefully but his passing came very quickly, without a great deal of warning. When he died after a very long night at my Grandmothers I woke up at one in the afternoon. I immediately packed a small running pack and hit a trail near my house. Prior to my run I was a ball of depressing stress, yet the run eased my pain. That long run in the woods on an unfamiliar trail distracted me and forced me to live in the present.

So what I am I getting at? I am trying to say that you should live in the moment, worry about your future, make good life choices but you should never harp on the future. Make a plan, decide how you will complete it, and then go out and enjoy the world. After all if you are unhappy in the present will you be happy in the future?

 “When you get to the summit and you push the watch, first you try to breath a little bit and get some oxygen in your lungs. When I saw this time I was like, ‘ah, that’s not possible.’ Yeah… that was a good moment.” 

~ Ueli Steck

The Friendliest People You Will Meet On A Hike

Our world has never been more connected than it is today. Yet somehow in this interconnected social world we barely interact with one another outside of the digital world. Now look I am not going to go on some rant about the pitfalls of social media or texting culture, or the way people interact over YouTube. This article is discussing the friendliest people that I have met, that group being hikers and climbers.

intrepidhikers

The group of hikers you see of in the distance a few hundred yards away from the summit of Mount Washington. I had never met before but they welcomed me into their group and we descended the mountain together.

I have been hiking consistently for a few years now and whether I am climbing a mountain in New Hampshire, or walking along a ravine in Northern Connecticut, if I see someone they almost always say hello. Which is a beautiful thing when you are out alone. Sure it might break the solitude of the experience but it does remind me that I am not the only one out hiking. It does however leave a question. Why are hikers and climbers so friendly?

I really do not know! Climbing is a sport and it has a great deal of competition yet the competitors treat each other like friends. I wrestled in High School for three years and sure we may have shook the hand of our opponent but the things we said afterwards were generally far from polite. This trait at least in my experience does not pertain to climbers. For example last year Alex Honnold, and Tommy Caldwell completed the first traverse of Fitz Roy in Patagonia. Alex and Tommy are amazing rock climbers but neither are grizzled alpinists.

Tommy (left) Alex (right)

Tommy (left) Alex (right)


In fact Alex is the first person to have ever won the Piolets d’Or without ever having lead a pitch of ice. Just before they started their epic climb Tommy noticed that Alex had brought the wrong type of crampons. His crampons would only attach to mountaineering boots; he was wearing Gore-Tex tennis shoes. So their already dangerous climb had the added threat of Alex losing his crampons mid climb. However as they climbed they knew that two famous alpine climbers from Patagonia were already attempting the same challenge. One of the climbers Rolo Garibotti a climber who literally wrote the book on Patagonia alpine climbing was feeling sick and they decided to descend mid route. On their descent they met up with Alex and Tommy. Rolo knew that Alex had the wrong crampons and in an amazing show of kindness he gave Alex the crampons he needed to complete the route. Rolo’s party was forced to abort their quest and he decided to give Alex the tools he needed to complete the climb. Which was an amazing show of kindness and benevolence from an amazing climber. How often do you see the New York Yankees handing a baseball bat to the hitter for the Boston Red Sox?

It is acts of kindness like the one demonstrated by Rolo on Fit Roy that truly describe the hiking and climbing community. We are friends within the mountains and we care about one another. I never feel strange asking someone how far away I am from the summit, or how his or her trip went. That confidence does not carry over to my journeys along a Boston Subway.

We are a community and we treat each other well because we know that we are all just trying to have a good time. We are all trying to be amongst friends, away from the world, away from the stress of every day life, and all of its challenges. This is what I have found in my experience at least. Your mileage may vary. So as always remember go out, explore treat your world with respect, and say hello to the people you meet on the trail.

 

The famous Fitz Roy skyline.

The famous Fitz Roy skyline.

“There is something about building up a comradeship – that I still believe is the greatest of all feats – and sharing in the dangers with your company of peers. It’s the intense effort, the giving of everything you’ve got. It’s really a very pleasant sensation.”
– Edmund Hillary