Everest-007 September 2007

Happy Sunday Morning to You 9/23/2007
“I was battered and bruised by something that does not move. A mountain of epic proportions. In my mind. And out in the world,” this sentence comes into my head as my footfalls tap the asphalt in a drumming cadence. I run this morning, cradled by the gentle light of dawn, and see that my bruises are healing and I am ready to celebrate. This is good timing, given I have invited many folks out to the INCO theatre to celebrate with me. I am eager to share some of the stories and the pictures of one of the most incredible places I have had the privilege to visit.

It’s been a week of finishing. I handed the last chapter of my Everest book to the editor and I wait on the edge of an ice pinnacle for his response and feedback. I saw the mock-up of the book cover and suddenly, the book seemed real as opposed to a date I had every morning. I’ve placed a semi-colon at the end of the sentence of renovations. I want to pause and catch my breath but there are still related projects to follow.

A bright red door taught me the beauty of letting go into radical acceptance of imperfection. I fell in love with the Buddhist path all over again. By doing nothing. For hours on end. I’m enveloped in “sad joy,” the tender hearted sadness of noticing and accepting that everything and everyone, including me is impermanent. I go slow. For me. For I am still in recovery from the mountain. And constantly remind myself that there is no need for urgency. That there is time and that there is strength. Plenty leftover for the next climb. A volcano this time. A volcano with a beautiful name.

Ojos de Salado. Eyes of the spirit. An invitation to look. To see. To observe. My spirit. The spirit. All spirits. Climbing at altitude often stripes life to its bare essentials. Walk. Sleep. Eat. Walk more. Sleep more. Eat more. There is little escape from oneself, just demand to stay with each footstep as it takes me higher. So, I’m off again in eight or so short weeks to northern Chile for a date with my spirit and the world’s tallest volcano. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

See many of you tonight and I know the rest of you will be there with me in spirit.

Take good care,

TA

INCO Innovation Center Theatre
MUN Campus
7:00 pm
September 23 (tonight)

Endings and Beginnings 9/13/2007
Hello to All,

I’ve reached Camp Four with the book and am now writing the final chapter. It’s a tougher one to write since I haven’t been writing much since my return to the mountain. With each day I spend off the mountain, I gain small glimpses of meaning and understanding about the experience of preparing for, being on, and coming home from the mountain.

Here’s a small passage I wrote this morning to start the last chapter.

The bruise on the heart which at first feels incredibly tender to the slightest touch eventually turns all the shades of the rainbow and stops aching.
Erica Jong

Adventure narratives always seem to end suddenly to me. It seems as if the author runs out of steam in telling the story chronologically and by the end they just want it done, the book and the adventure. Four months after leaving the mountain, I feel as if I am still plodding along its slopes. My mind is never far from Everest and I climb it every night in my dreams. Perhaps, if I could just find the magic door in my nocturnal wonderings, time would reverse and the climb would have a different outcome or I wouldn’t feel so lost. The ending is so lame. Felled by Giardia, where’s the satisfaction in that? No parades, no ticker tape, no fanfare, just congratulations for solid conservative decision-making. I don’t see it as failure but I still rail against the how the movie finished. No Hollywood ending. No storybook ending. No tragic ending. No ending really. Perhaps looking for or wanting an ending is part of my trouble. I suspect this is actually a beginning…

We’re approaching equinox and I’m sensing the change to autumn. Fall is my favorite part of the year. I’m a big fan of the reflective nature of the season and the colorful changes that occur. Here’s another invitation to my presentation:

INCO Theatre (IIC room 2001)
Memorial University Campus on September 23 (not long after equinox)
7:00 pm
Tickets are $10 from me or at the door.

I’ve been working on the show and I’m quite excited to show the pictures and tell stories from the climb. And it has a cool ending 🙂 Please join me if you can.

Hope all is well with you,

TA

9000 metres 9/5/2007
9000 Metres

This past weekend, my Oma turned 90. I was thinking 90 years must be a lot like reaching 9000 metres. One has to pass over much territory and through many dangers to reach both 90 and 9000 metres. I will forever cherish the memory of Oma playing Ring around the Roses with her great-grandchildren at her birthday party complete with falling down with them until the “younger adults” intervened and implored her to stop the falling down part.

From Oma, I inherited my sweet tooth, wiry hair, and dogged determination. She possesses a silent strength that is woven through her being and has seen her through many trials and difficulties. Like me, she is a prankster and uses humor to cut the edges from sorrow. While I was on Everest, I thought of my Oma often and tried to tap into her strength and perseverance. I recalled memories of her carrying 50-pound bags of cement as she neared her 60th birthday. Up until she moved into her latest apartment, she used to take the stairs to the fourth floor several times a day. I hope I am half as agile and active as Oma is when I reach 90!

I flew to Edmonton to surprise Oma for her birthday. She was touched and very appreciative. As her family and friends gathered around her, I was filled with gratitude for the many significant adults I had in my life as a child. Like Oma, they helped shape and support me as I grew to adulthood. I hope I can return the favor to the generations that follow me.

The book is progressing well. I gave the first 11 chapters to the editor before heading to Ontario to recertify my wilderness first responder. I’m eager to receive his feedback.

I am doing a public presentation on September 23 at 7:00 pm. It is entitled, “My Everest: More than a Mountain.” I hope those of you in St. John’s can join me as I share stories and pictures from the world’s highest mountain. The presentation will take place in the INCO Theatre at Memorial University. Tickets are $10 and are available from me ahead of time or at the door. Proceeds will help me retire the debt from the expedition. I’ll also have expedition t-shirts and carabiners for sale there as well. During the presentation, I will also reveal my next climbing adventure, which I committed to last week so it should be an exciting evening.

I’m hoping to begin writing regularly again as many of you have written to me saying you’ve been missing my weekly missives.

Take good care,

TA

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