Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Who gives a shit what the holy grail is

posted by Melissa
Supplies for the Quest
I watched 180˚ South for the third night in a row and finally finished it.  In the end, they show the main character and these two guys about 70 years old each, climbing up a mountain in Patagonia.  To me, it is unbelievable.  No, that word doesn't even do it justice, let me check my thesaurus.  It was an astounding and staggering feat.  They were using crampons over steep pitches of snow and ice, climbing up rocks with only their hands supporting them...and all of this with nothing but the near vertical drops leading to the thousands of feet below.

For me, more than their mind-blowing accomplishment of reaching the top, was their love for the outdoors.  It was about the quest, just being out there.  The main character, Jeff, initially heads there to climb Mount Corcovado.  At 200 feet from the summit, he is unsuccessful due to the conditions of the mountain.  While he is understandably disappointed, Yvon (one of the older guys) says of the experience:  "So it's kind of like the quest for the holy grail, well you know, who gives a shit about what the holy grail is, it's the quest that's important. The transformation is within yourself, that's what's important."

They talk a few times about the transformation that is just waiting out there for you, out in the wilderness.  Maybe that is what initially drew me to choosing this month.  Remember my "moss moment?"   Amy reminded me of it yesterday as we were driving all over Seattle getting our last minute supplies for the trip. I do crave transformation in my life.  And I have found that in the past through nature, a sort of transcending of the everyday.

We humans in the city are so busy running here and there, and by now even that is cliché.  "Like chickens with our heads cut off."  Everyone is so busy.  And for what?  So you can have that fancy new Coach purse ($798.00)?  So you can have 10 pairs of Smartwool socks ($15.00 ea.) and maybe a Smartwool shirt ($85.00) while you're at it?  At least the Smartwool will keep you warm while you are transforming through some transcendental experience in the backcountry.

A movie like 180° South brings me back to my days of idealism.  The days where I ate strictly organic, no processed foods, no sugar, bought hardly anything new.  Or hell, there were the days of only having a backpack and what would fit into it.  We didn't even have a tent, but we weren't backcountry, more in the trees of the on-ramp to the highway kinda campers.

And now here I am, living in one of the wealthiest cities, raising three kids, and all the while getting swept up into thinking, "Hey, wouldn't that purse look nice swung over my shoulder?"

Today, I ponder who I am.  What we are all doing here?  Why we all become so self-centered that we hog all the resources.  For our pleasure.  The movie shows beautiful areas of Chile being exploited with dams and paper mills, so that cities hundreds of miles away and reap the benefits.  I find that stomach turning.  And yet here I sit, in my city, in front of my computer all day long.  Shit, I think I might have at least 5 lights on in my house as I type.  I don't need one of them at this moment.

What to do?

Maybe the woods will soothe my worried mind more than I thought.  I am feeling more open to that.  I may not reach any major peak, but perhaps Yvon is right, it is in the quest that I'll find the transformation within myself.

Thanks for listening...

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