Here’s Peter McFadyen guest blogging for Life Support on his poetry of mountain climbing. Love adventure? Peter does.
Mountain Climbing is now one of the joys of my life (and for those grammatically inflexible amongst us; yes I do realise that I have capitalised “Mountain Climbing” but that’s how I pronounce it in my mind). Once I had recovered from climbing Mt Meru and Mt Kilimanjaro to the extent that I was no longer adamant that I’d never climb again, I began to look into the changes that I had discovered in myself since the climb.
I found increased levels of self-confidence, an inherent trust in my ability to take on challenges and do well. I found the yardstick against which I measured challenges to have grown taller, making any challenge I now came up against seem that much smaller. I was also much more comfortable with being uncomfortable and so my resilience and ability to persevere were greatly increased. This is a very pleasant way to live life and I found that many of my previous peaks and troughs were now smoothed out by the personal growth and awareness I had gained by taking on challenges and seeing how my actual experience matched my expectations on how I’d go.
Something had fundamentally changed in the way I viewed the world and the way I viewed myself and my place in it. This was not by the way of increased ego, or a superman complex, but more in an increased sense of myself, my place in the world and an ease of living that was borne of experience. In short, I was happier being me and more confident that I could make a worthwhile contribution to the planet – albeit in a small way. I also knew that when it came right down to it, I could push myself to achieve and that I would enjoy the experience no matter the effort required.
Another joy of my life is poetry. I love reading it, I love discovering new verses and finding the message within them and I love writing it. Consequently I have a love of the ‘notes’ area on smart phones as I will often be doing something and a phrase will pop into my head. From discovering that phrase I will normally have a fully formed poem a few minutes later. I’m not sure how that works and at times I believe that I am just a way of the poem coming to life rather than having ‘created’ it myself.
In this instance I was driving along a back road and saw a mountain peak in the distance. Rather than just thinking “Wow that’s pretty” or “I wonder what that’s called” my thoughts immediately ran to “I wonder how I’d climb that?” What? Why that thought? I realised that, having climbed a mountain, I was in some respects a ‘mountain climber’ and my view of the world had changed. I then thought, “having climbed a mountain” – I could do something with that. And so the following poem came to life:
Having climbed the mountain
Having climbed the mountain, there can be no “un-climbing”
Your view of the world is forever changed
You have outgrown yourself to be there
And having outgrown, you no longer fit into your life as you once did.
Having climbed the mountain, you have made the sacrifice
You have left something on the mountain
You have carried something away with you
You are no longer the person who commenced the climb
Having climbed the mountain, there is now a question
Each time you see a peak, you ask “How would I climb that?”
These may be physical peaks or challenges of the heart and mind
All peaks must be met, just needing time and devotion to task,
Turning from a peak is no longer in your being
Having climbed a mountain there is now a void
A challenge waiting to be met,
A dissatisfaction with your old path or any easy path
An ache to once again go beyond
Having climbed a mountain there is now a choice
To turn your back on what you have become, or
To embrace the fear of knowing that you can go beyond
And in doing so, bring the mountain into your being.
We are all capable of ‘climbing the mountain’ – of moving outside our comfort zones. It is here that growth occurs; the benefits of which can last a lifetime if we choose.
What mountain is waiting for you and what can you do to ready yourself to climb it? What will you leave behind and what will you take away? I hope you have the opportunity to find out soon.
“Let your life be your message” Mahatma Gandhi