‘Why?’ the most asked question in the business. It’s a tough question, without a definite answer but one that has to be asked.
The classic answers are ‘Because it’s there’ and ‘If you have to ask me you will never know’ both great one-liners that mean little.
On most long expeditions, there will be days where you are lonely, hungry, bored, sick or all the above. If you don't know why you are out there, the option to quit becomes a lot more appealing.
Pre trip jitters are in their own way one of the most challenging and special times of the mission. By definition fear and doubt are uncomfortable feelings. On the most basic level dealing with them, establishes commitment to overcome obstacles on the journey. On a deeper level it makes you reassess your life.
It's not a black and white world and neither are the reasons for our actions. We live in a world of opposites, filled with irony, and our actions arise from the same favoured mix.
Perhaps all achievement is born out of insecurity and I have done many a stunt to impress others. By doing something that no one else has every done, that no-one else is likely to want to do, I reinforce that I am different. For a compulsive individualist this is oxygen. We all have our roles to play. I wish I was the guy who sings beautifully but this will have to do. Unfortunately for my ‘brave ‘ man illusion it has become clear to me that the brave people are not the ones risking their life’s paying boyish games.
Psychoanalyst will diagnose a death wish but missions like these enhance appreciation of life. It is no coincidence that death and rebirth are related in all forms of religion and spirituality. When you accept that you are going to die and that it will be sooner than you think, it becomes impossible to merely go through the motions. Live without passion holds no appeal.
Deeper yet, lies the need to escape the mundane of everyday existence. Escape from a world that tries to tells me how to live, what to do and how to behave. Escape from my own shortcomings. Escape from the duality of mind and body. Simultaneously there is a need to move towards something, of needing something more, of completing oneself through effort. To be tested to the core is as good a reason as any, because it is in that place that we learn most about ourselves.
In a world filled with interpretations; truth exist in only in nature. There you cannot even lie to yourself. She does not tolerate bullshit. You come before Her with respect, fully present and ready to give a 100%, anything less and She will have your head.
Ultimately going on a journey that puts your life at risk is not a decision made by the mind. Reason does not support it. When Edmund Hillary was asked why he climbed mountains, he said “Because it is there.” I wonder if he knew he was talking about the need not the mountain
My current view on the matter is that the issue of motivation is indeed beyond words or even petty needs. When we surrender to the unknown, faced with the magnitude of the powers that lies ahead, it forces the realization of how insignificant this body is compared to the forces that lie in our path. Someone recently pointed out to me that our greatest moments are the ones where we lose ourselves. Moments when we become not only more, but become everything. I have breathed in life in its purest form a few second here and there and all I want is more of it.
These moment by themselves are inadequate, they offer only brief respite. Grabbing onto them can be as destructive as any addiction. Their value lies in the glimpses they provide of what is possible. I have come to hope that perhaps the intensity and clarity of these experiences can be used for more than cheap thrills. There is more to this world than what we perceive and perhaps one day I can slip through the gap these experience briefly provide, to live permanently in that place of Boundlessness, also know as Happiness. Not the superficial ‘satisfaction of needs’ happiness, but the real thing. The happiness of Being one with the moment, no matter how it presents itself. Ultimate freedom.