The Nasty Little Secret (part 2)
On 12/1/09 I posted (to the Salvation site) a couple of paragraphs written years ago to Steve House when I was coming to the realization that we do what we do not only to satisfy our own needs and desires but to affect others. I secretly hoped others would walk our path, and eventually step off it, and up to a new, more difficult path. Steve still holds the mountain torch aloft, illuminating potential. I evolved. And Gym Jones became my path. But the secret remains the same. And perhaps you can find a parallel, or a piece of your own truth in these stripped-bare words. The letter continues:
If we don't say it, who will? And if we are too subtle who will hear the words? You and I know it: we are human, we are more or less like the rest of the climbers out there. We just pay attention better, and we have innate skills and advantages others either lack or reject in themselves. And once we are elevated, talked about, and separate, our words become harder to hear. Those who hear them may be inspired, may be motivated, but no one would consider our actions and words a Map.
Today I understand that we do care about reaching those who haven't snapped to the realization, those who need guidance, or hand-holding. I don't want to give a reassuring hand all of the time but we both know the future of climbing rests on their shoulders. No matter how we chide and ridicule them when we need to criticize others to feel better about ourselves, we work the jobs we have because we want to teach others the skills and attitude we have discovered useful for ourselves. You do not guide simply because you can tap a paycheck from the mountains. I don't write, or work on equipment development for the money or to see my name in print. I do it because I want others to know deeper, inner recesses exist, and to know they can draw on those resources in themselves to overcome limitations imposed by the words or actions of others (society, "heroes", etc). I have communicated this poorly in the past; I condescend, and simultaneously hope my self-deprecation will disguise a sense of superiority. Am I over it? Maybe. I understand my mission is to educate others. To lead. We have all led by example. With each new route, with each step onto unknown ground and into murky psychological depths. We all teach. And doing so, we share the responsibility to do the job well.
The path is pretty damned clear to me. Now.
Two years on I realize that some people did and do understand what we said, and what we are trying to accomplish. People have picked up a match or a torch, maybe burned themselves with it, maybe lit the way for themselves and others, set some shit on fire - and have become more capable, and created greater opportunity by having done so. Deep, inner resources exist in all of us. Tapping into them or leaving them alone is a personal choice. How each of us is driven to that decision is one small part of the magnificent accounting of human experience. Use it, don't waste it.