Monday, August 6, 2007
Launch or Hurl?
My last day before taking off has been somewhat busy--cleaning house, doing stuff, keeping busy. The humming birds swarm around the property, and the day is perfectly sweet, a nice cool spell after weeks of heat. Being August, of course, it won't last, but I'll take this parting gift from the weather gods, a foretaste of autumn. Already I'm beginning to sense a change in the quality of light, even if it's rather faint at this point. When I return, we'll be fully into another season, even closing in on winter. The other morning I stepped out before the sun had risen--an alarm clock gift in the form of two pounds of psychotic kitty--only to see Orion for the first time dominating the eastern horizon. Normally I would be gearing up for classes, reviewing rosters, class notes, plotting tactics and strategies for the coming semester. But little is normal this time.
I'm reminded of my internal state when I faced the vertical face of El Capitan in Yosemite. I was just eighteen, hardly needing to shave, and I camped with new friends in The Valley's infamous Camp 4. El Cap, as we called it, loomed in ways that are hard for the non-climber to imagine. The casual tourist looks up and thinks: Wow, that's big. The climber poised for an ascent staggers about with a gut full of acid roiling and boiling within. He's calm and cool to his mates, but inside he's raging, plotting, striving to anticipate what he'll need to do, how to handle the challenges and fear, doing everything he can to keep the uncertainty under control. You've just got to step up and do it. How did Goethe put it? "Boldness has genius in it?" Something like that. Good words to remember when we challenge ourselves. Plot, plan, train, anticipate, then just take the leap. Although there can be risk in the leap, for me the risk of the leap not taken is the greater.
Preparing, devising, executing an expedition like this is a convoluted undertaking. Somewhere, somehow, the seed germinates in your head, and you decide that, yeah, I've simply GOT to do that. But between thinking and doing there often exists a fearsome chasm. It's one thing to think about having sex with a squadron of super models. It's something else to git 'er done. A full life means seeing these things through. So for me I substitute Maine and New Mexico for Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum...er... you get the idea. (I don't think I'll push this metaphor any further...)
So now, at long last, the game is afoot. Thanks, everyone, for you words of support. My next posting will be from the eastern edge of the frontier. What strange creatures and customs will I find? Will the natives be friendly or hostile? The adventure will tell!