I work in a big city, miles from where I live up in the hills. It’s great! I see so many different people, and each of them is unique. I experience so much. I have seen life slip away like smoke, and humor and courage on the faces of people who are looking straight into the void. I also get to laugh like a madman with good people and practice compassion and nonjudgment. And then there are the taco trucks! When I am in the city, I get to become someone else. People only get to know me so much. My kids don’t come up in conversation. I put away parts of myself four or five days a week. Then when I get home, they’re all there waiting, all those parts that make me, me! And with them is my dog, Marley the Bear. Glad to be together again.

Mountaineering is that way, too. I focus on what’s happening now. I can’t drift. I only have what I have with me, so that’s all that matters. Not bills or a broken heart. Not what happened yesterday. I put on the uniform or the ruck sack, make sure my shit is squared away, and there is almost nothing I think I can’t do. So far, I’ve been right about that!

But right now, pay attention. You know you didn’t come here to play it safe and just pass the time, right? I am talking about letting go of parts of yourself, of getting outside of ego and walking with an open heart into this world! Let the lives you come across touch and teach you, beyond judgment or repulsion. I know, that is asking a lot.