Once again, I must give credit for this post to a blogger buddy, this time Baz the Landy. He did a post recently about his training for an 8000 meter peak, and whether he was being selfish at all with all the time needed to train for this, and eventually putting himself in potential peril during the climb.
I have had this discussion MANY times over the years…
As we know, I live in Washington State, home of the famous and beautiful Mt Rainier.
I have done many a post about my 4 attempts (never did make it) to climb that beast, and the pull it still has on me.
Every year though, headlines shout about one, or many climbers, dying while climbing, and many others having to be rescued from the mountains (not Just Rainier, but many of our different Cascade peaks).
Whenever this happens, there are always those out in John Q. Public who start shouting and complaining about these people, how they put themselves in danger, and then rely on someone to save them.
When the worst happens, and they do die, heaven help them if they have a family. That’s when the “Selfish bastard” or “How could he or she out themselves in danger when they have kids?” comments come out. Each and every time this occurs, I flat get mad.
To be fair, I do understand their arguments. Here we have a parent who goes into the mountains, pushes sometimes to the limit of strength and endurance, all the while, the family is at home, and now has lost one of its members. I always agree it’s sad when this happens, but I do NOT agree that its selfish in the least.
Most of those who climb (or run marathons, or ride long distances or sky dive or river raft or rock climb or….) do so because it is a passion or a bucket list item. It could be a dream they’ve had since they were kid. (My climbing dream started when I was high school, sky diving started when I saw my first in person skydiver in elementary school!)
These dreams and desires do NOT stop once you have a family, nor should they.
Being a parent, the expectation is that sacrifices will occur for the kids. There are expenses, events, health issues and just the need to be around for the kids. It’s in the job description. No longer having your own desires is not…
Now add to it, for most of these items, you need to train to have any chance of completing the goals. This means those who climb or ride or run are, for the most part, MUCH healthier than their peers. This means not only will they most likely live longer, they can do MUCH more with the kids. I was able to run, play, and participate much more with the kids that others I knew!
There DOES have to be trade offs though! For I my training hikes I would leave at the butt crack of dawn, do an 8 mile round trip with the 40 lb pack, and be back by lunch. I still do that with the bike (minus the 40 lb pack but with a LOT more miles!). On weekends I leave as early as I can, so I can spend the rest of the weekend with Michelle.
I have seen people stick the spouse with all the kid and house chores. And this isn’t just for adventure. It can be for work, sports teams, drinking with friends or pursuing any hobby. I have also seen one spouse chase the dream and tell the other “Sorry, I come first….” Now THAT is selfish!
I will come clean on one thing though. In a previous relationship, I DID use training to avoid visiting in-laws. These were 8 – 10 hour visits that only ended when I would say for the 3rd time “Hey we need to get home to feed the dog….” I would be bored stiff and the visit would continue. Training for climbs once gave me almost a year of no visits! (I always thought they really wanted to see her and kids more than me anyway!)
I know that I am lucky to be with the person I am with now. Michelle married me knowing the things I like to do. In fact, she works hard to make sure I get out and do the training I need to do to be successful. Then, as we know she is my support and emergency rescue squad. I would not be as successful and happy as I am without her. I do the same for her!
Now, with her half marathons and training I can give back and be her support crew!
To put it in a nutshell… I will always be sad I never summitted Rainier. But I will never have the “what if” pain. I gave it all I could, and the body just couldn’t do it. I continue to do things I love, cycling, hiking etc. It makes me happier, keeps me healthier and makes Michelle proud of me quite often!
I always wonder if some of the naysayers and loudest complainers might be some who did have a dream and let it go, making them a little bitter and judgmental of others.
My climbing days are over, but I am the first to defend anyone who wants to climb, there aint no better view anywhere than the top of a mountain!
So if there is still a dream in that heart of yours, it may not be too late. Start training now, put a date on the calendar to shoot for, get your family involved and go for it. It’s not selfish, it is living life!