Descent is the term I use that asks us to consider the entire trip during our life, both climbing up and going down. In firefighting terms, we need air to get in, air to work, and air to get out. Same for SCUBA divers. What follows is a reflection.
I woke up this morning, as I usually do, to my dogs stretching over me and licking my face. We have two Shih Tzus and they are my pals. At 6:00 am they are ready to walk around the block. It’s what we do.
I’m learning from my dogs to stretch long and deep before I get out of bed. It seems like a healthy practice. One way that I know that I am relaxed is to feel that long, deep stretch in the morning. When I am stressed, the stretch is not there; I can’t find it.
On my mind this morning, for whatever reason, is Mount Everest. I no longer question why thoughts and memories and future planning surface, I simply accept that they are there, and it is what it is.
I am wondering about the death rates climbing Mt. Everest versus descending Mt. Everest. Perhaps I am on this line of thought because I interested in the long-view of life. There is a fascinating blog, The Long Now Foundation, that is worth reading if you are interested in “the long-view.” These guys are planning and thinking 10,000 years into the future.
How many of us take an eternal perspective of life and think about how our thoughts, words, and deeds will manifest in hundreds, thousands, millions of years? What action am I taking today that is shaping the person I will become tomorrow?
I get the dogs around the block, hug and kiss my wife and kids as they head off to school, and rest in the grace of expressing love. A bit weird that sentence, coming from a man; touching into emotion like that. But after my career, knowing how fragile life can be, what’s there to lose?
After everyone is gone, out the door, I begin my morning three-mile walk. As I am praying and thinking, it begins to rain. This motivates me to jog and I jog at a medium pace as the rain drizzles down. It’s perfect. A morning baptism, and I need it.
I get home and begin my morning meditation, I set my timer for 20 minutes. A few minutes in, the rain deepens, gets heavy, and comes down in buckets. It rains cats and dogs, I can heard them thud as they hit my roof. This makes for a beautiful meditation on sound and I simply rest in the sound of rain coming down.
I know the answer. I just looked it up. 15% of climbers that have died on Mt. Everest died climbing up. The rest, died coming down, during descent.
I’m not going to go off on a long tangent here, but consider how society, culture, shapes the modern-day worker. Young men and women are encouraged, demanded, to climb up. Education, work hard, promotion, training, work hard, prove yourself, promotion, climb up. In a word, strive.
But the workplace, in most instances, does not take into consideration descent. My observation here, and understanding my own history, is that each of us has the responsibility to take the long-view of life and consider, especially in the working world, our descent. It’s the descent that kills climbers.
It’s a good morning. My dogs are at my feet, I am expressing myself in writing, and the rain continues to fall. I am content to just be.