You know, overall I know I am many things: Loud, sometimes obnoxious (in a good way) energetic, cold & callous. reasonably intelligent, kinda funny, a pain in the rear and a cyclist. I think we can all describe ourselves in many ways.
One thing, though, I’ve kinda prided myself on is my tolerance. It takes a lot to get me fired up. Last night though, listening to the radio it happened!
This was a Sunday I drop the Manchild down in Federal Way with his mom after his weekend with us. On the way down we usually have the music cranked (as much as my old car can crank) and we talk. On the way back though, I am jumping around looking for something to listen to.
Rush Limbaugh is on, no thanks. There was a baseball game for two teams I didn’t care about. Nope. Sports radio was talking about basketball. Yeah don’t care. The music station was crappy. But then I stumbled on an interview with a lady who has had over 200 letters published to the New York Times.
It was interesting enough to pass a few miles. The interviewer asked her what she wrote in about. She replied there were many things that inspired a letter, but 2 things were age discrimination (as she is older (her works not mine)) and discrimination against heavier people (as she used to be heavy.)
Both of these are ok, I have no problem with either, unless a person went to the University of Washington there is no good reason to discriminate. But then she elaborated and chaffed my hide! She said, “People think we should force those with an eating disorder to get medical treatment. For their own health. This makes me mad. We don’t force people who climb mountains to go into treatment do we! It would be for their own good as well?!?”
“WHAT!” Yep I actually stared and yelled at the radio!
“People think those with an eating disorder are endangering their health, “ she went on to explain, “are not mountain climbers doing the same thing?”
Ok it is time to reach into the radio and give this lady a swift kick! Let’s see, where do I start here.
First off, I have NEVER been healthier than when I was in “mountains shape.” There is no way you can carry a full pack, up something like this unless you are in shape.
Hiking, and doing stairs with a 40 lb pack to get ready, running and biking to increase the cardio, eating right to maximize your performance, all combined give you a shot at reaching the top of a mountain.
Then there is the mental rejuvenation of being in nature during training hikes, the views, fresh air, sounds, all of which help reduce the stress of work and family issues. Hiking and mountain climbing is an all around healthy alternative to being overstressed and unhealthy.
Eating disorders, whether it is eating too much, eating too little, or purging what you eat, have no redeeming qualities. Each of these affects the body in a negative manner. If it isn’t stopped, it can lead to irreparable damage or even death. I am no expert, but it is my understanding that in most cases a person needs medical help to kick these issues.
So why is she comparing the two? As I said, those with the eating disorders are endangering their health. Her argument is that going into the mountains, where you can get injured or die, is essentially the same thing.
NO it is NOT! Every climber I know works hard to be a safe as possible. They have the right equipment, they listen to the mountain, they appease the mountains gods and do everything they can to stay safe. “Getting to the top is optional, coming home alive is a requirement” is the mantra.
Now, do unexpected things happen? Yes, you can’t predict everything, and sometime, no matter how careful you are, shit happens. Avalanche, equipment failure, freak weather, any of these can cause injury, or yes, death.
But I would argue, you run the same risk, if not more, driving to and from work in rush hour. You just don’t know what will happen on any given day. We don’t send people to commuter treatment now do we?
And yes, I will grant to you, that there ARE stupid people. Those who read “Into Thin Air” buy an ice axe and give it a whirl. Lord knows I have met a few in my travels. And yes every year more than one person has to be rescued. But then, there are a helluva lot more stupid drivers in the world AND daily someone has to be rescued from a car crash.
I guess overall it comes to this. The comment was made by someone who has no understanding of mountain climbing, and is herself, making judgments about people, while at the same time telling us we shouldn’t judge others. All in all, we spend a LOT less on mountain climbers than we do on those with easting disorders. In other words she’s a twit!
OK, I feel better now!