Monday, December 14, 2009

Catching up with the blog, but mostly with myself.

I realize it has been a while since my last blog updates, to those of my persistent and very supportive blog followers (I'm talking to you Mom and Dad) I am sorry. I know you're excited to see the evidence of my latest adventures and escapades, and it's not that I've been too busy to post. In fact, I've got most of the posts up here just not published yet. I've just been trying to find the right reasons to justify me doing these things that I have been doing. BASE jumping, highlining, even climbing have inherent dangers. But worse than these dangers are the effect they each have on my own mental establishment. I know you're worried about me dying or getting injured or whatever, but I'm still too naive to actually care about that. What I am most worried about, however, is my mental attitude in approaching these activities. Lately I've come to some stark realizations about my personality that have more or less disgusted me.

When I was really young I was always excited to learn, and this followed with me into middle and high school. By that time I had established a stigma that I intended to keep: the smart kid. I was eager to learn, and eager to succeed in school. But somewhere along the way my motivation for learning made a shift from genuine interest in the subject matter, to interest in the enhancement of my ego. While it surely didn't shift so drastically as to be 100% in either category, the obvious balance was noticeably skewed. Why it did this I am not sure, but it has certainly had a resounding affect on my personality today.

This ego-inflation has always repulsed me, and as you know I've been prone to shy away from it, but the more I think about it, the more I realize exactly how ego-driven I've been in the last few years. I've been asking the question "why" about nearly everything epistemicaly possible. Why I'm here, why I interact with the world that way that I do, but more recently I've been answering even more complicated questions: why do I highline, why do I BASE jump (or so I thought I was answering the questions). In asking these questions, I would often follow up with an answer somewhere along the lines of "because I find some sort of philosophical peace and overarching truth in these activities", or perhaps I declare a "moment of clarity found in nothing else". However I've recently begun to realize how far this actually is from the truth.

The only true reason "why" is because it fills some sort of gap that requires personal affirmation. My soul has a fundamental desire for the appreciation of others. And what better way to be viewed in a positive light as to do something extreme with my life, that nobody else does? While, again, I realize that it isn't this black and white, but the general trend has been in this direction. I'm not proud of it, but ignoring it certainly can't help. Recently I've been trying to discover the real truth behind my actions, and this is why there has been an obvious lack in blog postings.

I suppose looking for a reason for something isn't necessarily the right way to approach this problem, but it is a pragmatic way. It helps me begin to understand, in my own little way, and gives me small amounts of comfort. I suppose the most harsh reality is that my actions have been so driven by my ego that I have not had the chance to enjoy them. Highlining has lost its appeal in my quest to be one of the best in the world. BASE jumping fills me with emptiness, but not the good emptiness they talk about in Buddhism class, the emptiness that feels like a hole in my chest, makes it hard to breathe, a sinking feeling like you realize that your girlfriend is about to break up with you. That kind of feeling. Why could something so potentially liberating have such a negative demeanor attached to it? Mainly because I have been doing these things for the wrong reasons.

Flaunting my accomplishments on facebook posts and status updates, rambling about my supposed "self-awakening" on this blog, putting up trip reports on forums. All these things are ways that I have been consciously inflating my ego, and further burrowing that hole into my chest. I am left with a sadness and pain that baffles me.

I've started to realize how unhealthy this process is, even on a subconscious level. Even without posting the media that I collect, I still am drawn to watch videos of my jumps over and over again. Without fail, every Monday after a fun weekend of adventuring I am so distracted with my accomplishments that I let other important things fall by the wayside. I am unavoidably infatuated with my own experiences that I fall victim to the role of "living vicariously through myself". This isn't a joke. I've realized how dangerous this is. I am so caught up in watching the videos and looking at the photographs that I lose track of what is really important. Therein lies the real crisis. Right now as I am typing these words, I have absolutely no idea what is important in this life. That is a serious dilemma. Further, my entire life in the last few years has centered around the cultivation of these activities. I am at a loss.

Because of a thirst for acceptance and a drive for greatness that was instilled within me from an early age (no blame Mom and Dad, I'm sure it was entirely coincidental), I have pursued these extreme sports with vigor. And while I do get a great deal of personal enjoyment out of them, if you would ask me right now why I do these things, I could not give an honest answer. I have no clue (except for the fact that my ego needs a boost every day, just like someone else would need their coffee).

My studies of Buddhism have helped me to discover this, and have aided me in opening my eyes into my own life. I don't have a curiously wonderful life of adventures, free of worry. It is certainly far from that. It is wrought with the suffering that ensues from my ego-driven conscious trying to kid myself that what I am doing is for a good cause, such as mental cultivation or meditative training. It is really only so that others will look at me and say, "hey that Scott is pretty cool, I wish my life were like his". I realize this with disgust. My motivations are reprehensible.

Based on these findings, you can understand why I have been hesitant to post any information whatsoever online. I'm realizing how the life as I have lived it has relatively little importance. It is something that I have done purely out of the selfishness in my heart. Sure, it may inspire others, but by living my life for the wrong reasons I am consequently inspiring others in the wrong way. I need the chance to step back and rework my mind, I need the chance to start approaching life from a more beneficial perspective. I know that you both love me more than can be stated on paper, and the feelings are absolutely mutual. Right now that is one of the only tangible things in my life. This love, combined with my ability to reflect are the only tools I have with which to rework my life, so I'm making some sort of game plan.

I am no longer going to post photographs on any social networking sites. They are too driven by my egocentric greed. It has gotten to the point where I can't even be doing something without thinking about what I'll post about for my next facebook status update. I can't even take photos without thinking about what my friends will comment about, which ones they will like the best, how they will think that I am a good photographer. This whole process, once a passion of mine, has only become a hindrance.

I will, however, post photographs on the blog, mainly because almost nobody looks at this thing, and those that do I share that tangible love for, so I know no harm can come from it.

I have also decided to cease BASE jumping and highlining until I can discover beneficial reasons for partaking in these activities. I obviously would not have pursued them with such an eager spirit if there wasn't an inherent beauty about these activities. However, I am going to turn that childish determination from a necessity to be the best, and use that energy to determine how to enjoy these things as much as possible, and for the right reasons. I know this will come at a relief to you because of my decreased risk of danger, but don't get used to it. There will always be something that I do that will consistently bother you.

I also hope that you take this opportunity to be honest with yourselves, and look into your own lives with this objective analysis. None of us are perfect, and I feel that it will do you each a great service to think about your life, maybe only seriously for 20 minutes each day. Think about the motivations you have for living your life the way you do. Think about the impacts this has on your loved ones. Think about the important things in your life, not necessarily family, but other things too. Your passions, your outlets, things that you hate about your life as well. What can you do to change them? Our minds are neuroplastic entities that are in dynamic balance with our bodies and our surroundings. We never observe the same thing twice because we are always changing from our experiences and our reflections on those experiences. We need to be living this life in the best way possible. Maybe this is a generalization, I suppose the only truth that I know is that I myself am compelled to live my life in the best way possible. I challenge you, because of the love that we share, to do the same. It will be uncomfortable, but I hope that it will be liberating.

Thanks for reading, and know that of everything in my life, the one thing that I appreciate most is you, my family. My love for you is unexplainable, but it is the most real thing that I have, and through constant internal struggle in my life, this always brings me back to a comfortable mental place, so Thank You.