Monday, November 29, 2010

Climb Ev'ry Mountain

I’ve been listening to the radio recently. I’ve found it’s safer than watching television. It doesn’t do the blood-pressure things to me, and it doesn’t distract me from the traffic so much when I’m driving.
Anyway. National Radio are doing a reading of an autobiography – of the woman who was the first to climb Mt Cook. She must be older than god, because she’s talking about how she started climbing in the early 1900s.
She faced a lot of challenges, mostly to do with her gender: all the ladies taking the mountain air at The Hermitage in 1903 got a tad tut-tutty when she announced her intention to go and climb a mountain (her first), with a guide… who was a (gasp) man. She ended up having to hire a chaperone.
This is beside the point, though. Yesterday’s chapter gave me one indelible statement, today’s, another. Yesterday’s went: “The moment I made the decision (to climb a mountain), it half frightened me.”
I nearly punched the air in delight (I didn’t, because the windscreen was in the way). I got what she meant, immediately. To make a decision that scares you is so life-affirming.
So, today, she climbed the mountain, and her guide was hugely and happily impressed with her character and abilities. He asked her if it was worth it, and what would she want next? She pointed to Mt Cook, which towered in the middle-distance. “I want to climb Mt Cook next,” she said.
And he said, "No." Instead, he then advised her to build up to it. Not because he didn’t think she could do it. He thought she probably could. But if she did, she wouldn’t have the joy of expectation any more. The slowly building confidence in her own strengths, abilities, knowledge. She’d knock it over, and be exhausted in the doing, and wouldn’t enjoy the achievement. The best achievement is one you’ve earned, he said.
Her reaction? One of joy. She got it.
And she would be the first to pour scorn on such immediate-fame things like “America’s Got Talent”, “Britain’s Got Susan Boyle”, The X-Factor”, and so on and mind-numbingly on. Shows that give people fame and “stardom” in a few short televisual weeks.
It took The Beatles ten years of hard graft before they became an overnight success. And they’ll be remembered a century from today. Alifont Seemore, or whoever it was that won the X Files the other day, will be forgotten before my new packet of Weet Bix is finished. Actually, I've already forgotten him.

Reading: “Dimiter”, William Peter Blatty. Very intriguing.
Listening to: Old 1960s rock - the "Tour of Duty" collection. Cool.
Word / phrase of the day: “The moment I made the decision, it half-frightened me”.


  1. Nice to have you back, Allan. And congrats on the new job! Wheeee, back into advertising, huh?
    That would more than half-frighten me!
    Must listen for this thing you're listening to. I read the article in the Listener - she sounds fascinating.
    Love to the red-head. From me, Chris, and pox-boy.

  2. Have to agree: TV is infuriating. The radio's usually pretty infuriating too, but you've obviously lit on a grand program to listen to. I wonder if the SABC credits any of its listeners with enough intelligence to enjoy something like the inspiring story you recount.