Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Never Too Old to Climb Higher...
The day after my birthday I continue to be focused on the challenges...and opportunities...of growing older.
This video caught my eye today in the NYTimes online and once again represents some inspiration to those of us who sometimes may struggle with the idea of aging.
Fred Beckey is a world famous climber, who at 85 refuses to stop. He has devoted his whole life and made his prime passion climbing mountains and obstacles that to many seemed impossible to climb. He has had an "odd ball" life...never married, never aspired to much of a career or wealth, never seemed to fit in with "normal" people. Yet, he continues to challenge and inspire fellow climbers many of whom are 60-70 years younger. Apparently not being surrounded by family or friends who keep saying you should stop or are too old to do such things has helped him maintain his passion, health and vigor for what he loves to do.
I have always found these kinds of people interesting and inspirational. Maybe that’s why probably some of you view me and my life as a little bit "odd" or unconventional. I have never felt comfortable with someone telling me what I can't do or "shouldn't" do until it was clear in MY mind that was so. Sure, there have been times I should have listened to some of those voices...but there's no lesson in life sometimes like the hard ones...learned your own way. As long as they don't kill you, they make you stronger and hopefully wiser.
Society spends way too much time looking outward at others, placing judgment on other's behaviors, making rules for deportment and behavior for the masses. Our governments place far too much importance, time and money on trying to legislate morality...and behavior if you will. Humans are too bent on moderating and controlling each other...whether it be physically, mentally or socially. "They" are always telling "us" where we can and cannot travel on this globe. "They" are quite petty about appropriate dress and comportment. It’s almost like the key to success socially and/or financially requires the right external appearance...going to the right schools...learning the correct and acceptable vocabulary. Most children are brought up in very controlled environments where their every move and identity is configured to please their parents, family and friends, or society at large. In this type of life, it is quite difficult to break out and know who you are individually...and when/if you arrive there, it is made more difficult to "feel good about it".
Yet, in the midst of all this pressure, the human spirit continues to rise above in many people to accomplish or become what THEY envision for themselves. This does not happen without extreme sacrifice and focus on personal objectives. I have a sense that Fred Beckey has never cared much about whether he was accepted by his family or peers. I don't think Fred has worried much about money, or politics, or in general what is going on with the human race around him. I sense he has been somehow singularly focused on what HE wants to pursue, conquer or experience. Some might call him the ultimate selfish egotist. Maybe he is...I don't know. But his apparent health and vitality with continued pursuit of his own passion stands out to me as laudable, admirable, and I think an example that calls out to the many young people who now live in awe of him that all things are possible for those who continue climbing, reaching for their dreams, or the next peak to conquer.
Somehow I have always felt that a true person of quality can never stop pursuing improvement or having a goal to pursue. No matter what age or station in life, I think we each have more to achieve...only limited by our own imaginations and will power.