Monday, August 25, 2008

Balance, Meaning and Living Well

The more I pursue my passions and my life's ambitions, the harder it becomes to live an equal and balanced life. We try to do what we love, but when we are always doing what we love, is that a selfish thing to do? Is it right to ignore the needs of people around us and completely engross ourselves in our own passions and our own wants and goals? It seems there is a fuzzy line between being ultimately happy for ourselves and being negligent to the needs of others in our life.

Lets face it, nobody can survive being alone in this world, that just goes against the principle designs of our social structure. Humans thrive on each other and our individual contributions towards the well being of our society. But it seems so many people are unhappy serving a role in life which benefits others and not themselves. On the opposite end of the spectrum, someone who completely envelops their life on becoming ultimately and purely happy for themselves is acting in a way that could be harmful to the people around them. Even if I were to claim that I don't need others in my life, and don't love anyone aside from myself (this clearly isn't the case) there would still be others who depend on me in some way or another, and who are affected by my actions on a regular basis. I'm talking about family, close friends, and anyone else who has been affected by me living my life the way I do. So is it right to go ahead and neglect the needs and wants of those people and live life solely for myself? I think not.

What I am starting to realize the more I push myself to the limit of my comprehensible level of existence, happiness and peace, is that I often push others out of my life to focus completely on my own ambitions. This is an unhealthy thing. People need to dream of course, but it is hard to actualize those dreams without the love and support of others. If I die tomorrow "doing what I love" I would die a peaceful and idealistic death, one in which I would probably be very happy with. However, the people who loved me and depended on me, who I left behind, would have to deal with the unresponsible reprecussions of my actions.

What I need to do is find a balance between doing what I love, and being with the people who I love. In this way I can live my life in an unselfish way that reflects a combination of my passions as well as the passions of others. I do what I do because it makes me happy, but I would love for others to be happy with what I do as well. It is a tricky place to be in, and an extremely complicated way of living my life, but in order to further grow and to reach further peace in my life, I have to earn the love of others, and surround myself in it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The 5th great 14er traverse

14 connoisseur Gerry Roach, author of the most popular colorado 14er guidebook, claims that there are 4 "great 14er traverses" including: Crestone Peak to Crestone Needle, El Diente to Mt. Wilson, South Maroon to North Maroon, and Little Bear to Blanca. While I've only done 2 of these, its about time to add another traverse to the list.

Friday evening, in a stroke of both boredom and genius, I packed a bunch of stuff into my car and drove up to Aspen, CO to try to climb a few 14ers this weekend. The initial plan was to solo Pyramid, and then hike into Capitol lake and solo Capitol the following day. It was a certainly feasible, but clearly reckless and dangerous. Phase 1 was nearly complete as I reached the summit of Pyramid Peak in just a couple hours from the trailhead (I was flying). At the summit, I ran into my friend Scot, with whom I had climbed Kit Carson, Challenger and Culebra with a few months ago. We hadn't planned anything at all, but by a stroke of luck we ran into each other. As a spur of the moment thing, we decided to do the rarely traveled traverse from Pyramid peak to Thunder Pyramid, a class 5 scree-fest filled with loose rock, huge drops, and loads of satisfaction.

The traverse only took a few hours, pretty average based on the difficulty of the terrian, and we were off the summit of Thunder Pyramid before noon. I'd say that it was definitely more difficult than any of the other traverses I've done, but it was incredibly fun, and definitely a classic that should be added to the list of any serious peak-bagger. The trail off of Thunder was rather unappealing though, as it was just a slippery walk down thousands of feet of loose rock and talus. Because of this, the descent ended up taking just over 4 hours, which left us worn out but elated as we reached the cars. We had just done a traverse that most people spend months preparing for, and we had done it on a whim. The weather worked out marvelously for us, and there were no accidents with the loose rock, so we lucked out, but we also showed how well the human mind and body can perform under extemporaneous conditions and pressures. I'm excited for the successful trip and am happy that I got to spend the last weekend of my summer doing something worthwhile.

Now its time to think more about the concept of time, because I am going to be needing a lot more of it once classes start tomorrow.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tranquil Flight

White whisps of water molecules fly by my head as I track into an infinite bliss. I see the shadow of my freefalling body below, on the cloudy sea. Faster and faster I fall, but this is no bad dream, but a good dream, the ultimate dream, turned to reality. Actualization of my aspirations to become something more; my world has come true as I step out the door of that turbo-prop heap of flying metal into the sky. And as I lean forward, arms tensed, legs straight, speeding faster and faster and faster, it is not I who is moving, but the world. The entire earth is speeding towards something better and I am guiding it there, with my wings of skin I curve, create lift, carve through the edge of the cloud, following the side of soaking disaster like a steep chalky cliff created at that moment by the great one. Relaxed and alive I fly through the air at 100 miles an hour and nobody knows and I like it that way. The clouds fall faster and faster and soon comes the ground, and I fly back home to the grassy meadow, all the while wishing I could call my home "the sky".

Friday, August 15, 2008

Man on Wire

I had the pleasure of seeing this movie last week and it was fantastic. Phillipe Petit is one of my biggest heros, and this just solidified my affection for almost legal highlining endeavors. I recommend this movie to anyone looking for inspiration to challenge themselves, Phillipe's philosophy on life is one we can all appreciate.

Info about the movie can be viewed here:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Designer Genes

What are the genes in the body that control the level of fear that someone has in a situation? Why am I not privileged to have these genes? It seems that everything I do scares others to a degree that I can't understand? Its just walking a slackline, or its just jumping out of an airplane... is it really that bad? Perhaps I'm missing some key infrastructure in my cognitive brain soup that should make me scared when I'm about to walk a highline or skydive. Or maybe its just a family thing. It probably is, and here's my proof.

This weekend I rigged the Golden Spire highline again, mainly for my sister Laura to try out a second time. Last time she had difficulty standing up, so I devised a plan to remedy that. Paul came along for the fun too, and was hiding lots of tricks in those short sleeves of his. It turned out that they both had it in them to try really hard, but they didn't really seem too stoked on it, just wanted to hang out. I was mistaken though, Paul stepped up to the line, and after hanging out on it for a few minutes, gave it a go. The thing about highlines is that the hardest part is standing up. Once you are standing, you're in an extremely familiar position so it flows naturally and comfortably.

Paul and Laura did great, and both walked it on virtually their first tries! Laura became the only woman (as far as I am aware of) to walk a highline in Colorado, or at least the youngest. I'm really proud to have two awesome slackliners in my family.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Forecast: Rain

This weekend during one of my skydives, a storm managed to develop over the landing area as we were flying up to altitude. We only made it to 9,000 feet AGL which was kind of annoying because the freefall time wasn't as long. However, it turned out to be better rather than worse as it was rain/snowing as we jumped out of the plane. In fact, we jumped out of the plane in the middle of a raincloud. Rain doesn't hurt too much as it hits the ground, but when you're falling through it at more than a hundred miles per hour, it hurts really bad. Imagine getting shot with a drop of water at 200 feet per second. Not fast enough to penetrate the skin, but enough to sting. Then imagine getting shot thousands of times before you are able to open your canopy. It was like that. The whole jump was a fiasco though, only three of us fun jumpers actually made it down to the landing area because of the terrible spot through the cloud and the high winds. People landed all over the place, even several miles north of the drop zone itself. I hope I never jump in the rain again, or at least if I do I hope I'm not wearing just shorts and a t-shirt. Its weird how the little things will surprise you when you least expect them. It was a fun weekend of jumping, regardless.

Friday, August 1, 2008


"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times".

Dickens said it best, but I've been thinking about time a lot lately, and frankly, I've started to lose faith in it. I think people rely on time too much and too often. I always hear people say "Dude that was such a good time" or "It's about time". We tie everything we do to this concept of regular motion, angular momentum, and perpetual rotation. Being late or early can define someone's social characteristics or reputation, and time can go quickly or miserably slow depending on your mood. Stop, take a step back, and look at what time really is. Time ties us to what is false, to what is unforgiving, to what is stagnant, to what is woefully human. It creates stress, loss, many bad and negative things, yet it also creates room for freedom and playful innocence.

I've always had a weird notion of time. Ever since I was a little guy, long before I started studying enlightenment and philosophy. I used to think of different situations that the world would be in if my idea of time was different. For example, it has always been a question of mine how the world would be if I had been born 10 years earlier. It all boils down to an idea of perception vs. reality. What is it exactly that governs the current state of affairs of the universe? We are born into this universe seeing it as we do, but is it because that is the way the universe is, or is it because that is what we perceive it to be? What I mean by this is: I have always questioned what year it would be now if I had been born 10 years earlier. To someone born in 1980, they would say, "of course it has to be 2008". But to me, I would say "it has to be 1998". The world would be completely different if I had been born 10 years earlier. The reason for this is that my perception of time would be changed, but not the duration of it. Had I been born in 1977 instead of 1987, the 21 years I have experienced would have been displaced by ten years, and the year would now be 1998 instead of 2008. The fact that I have only been conscious and aware for 21 years means that it would be impossible for it to be the year 2008 if I had been born in 1977. I started my current database of knowledge and memories right when I was born, not sooner and the fact that it is limited to 21 years means that I can only trust my own direct experiences. Another example: If I was born last year it would be, in my current state of consciousness, 2028. People don't seem to understand this when I explain it to them, but most of them miss my point, and I blame the concept of time for this.

My point is that time is irrelevant compared to experience. You can live 20 years and have the same amount of direct experience as someone who lives to be 100. Most people get caught up in this notion of time, and it actually holds them back. It saddens me to see someone so distraught with deadlines and appointments and all these things that are fabricated to hold society together, but actually do more harm than good. I like to think of life in terms of experience, joy, passion, ambition, love and whatever it is that holds these things together. It has nothing to do with time. Thats why when I'm in my most enlightened state, more often than not on a slackline, I have no perception of time.

See my reactions to time on a highline here.

Life isn't about how long you live, its about what you live for. I've accomplished more in the last year than I ever thought possible, but not once did I worry about that, just by keeping your mind on a goal that you are passionate about, you can transcend this idea of time and create a life that will excite and surprise you. I think the more we live for what we are passionate about, and the more that we love what we are doing, the less that time becomes an issue. In fact, it could even melt away into a nothingness that is resolved in pure enlightenment. Don't let time hold you back. Even if you think you don't have any left, you can still live your life to the fullest. Its never too late to start, because without time, you wont be late for anything.