While every era is probably strange and stressful in its own particular way, the present age can and does often feel particularly strange and stressful.
Yesterday afternoon, the great alpinist, Conrad Anker, posted on his Instagram feed what he called, “a short essay on being positive.” And they are words worth far more than the time it takes to read them.
Thank you, Conrad.
A Short Essay On Being Positive, by Conrad Anker
“Please know that you, the person reading this, the person giving your time and insight to this form of communication are appreciated. It’s humbling the number of you that follow my life and interests. In the seven years since instagram has taken off we have seen the connectivity and community that this digital platform has enabled. Seeing what my friends are up to inspires me to work out, travel and explore. I’m also thankful for the diverse range of knowledge that is shared. We have also seen loneliness, commercialism, bullying, malicious intent and deceit wrestle with an entity that I inherently see as a positive force in society.
If you follow me and know my life story you’ll hopefully accept who I am. Maybe a few of you might be motivated by the experiences I have had and understand how they shape my worldview. Life is way too short. Too many of my peers, in age and passion, have lost their lives to accidents and disease. If I’m left with anything, after sorrow transforms, is that every day is something to celebrate. And every day is one more chance to give life back to the community that sustains us. Our children and elderly deserve our love and respect.
I was once young and in need of sustenance, guidance and knowledge. Hopefully we will be old and dependent upon others for our well-being, purpose and respect. No matter where we are in this timeline of life we have the to opportunity to be positive. I aim to leave this wonderful planet that we share in a manner that offers hope for future generations
As a kid born in ‘62 the moon landing and the Vietnam War were events that shaped my view. One was teamwork; “let’s do cool stuff and nerd out.” The other was a quarrel; one repeated throughout history, that to a young mind made no sense. My mother was born near Dresden on the onset of the Third Reich. The destruction, pain and death she experienced at age 13 when the war ended shaped her view. My mother is still the dearest person in my life. As loving as she was, she forbade me and my buddies from playing war. Death was not a joking matter. It was one of her rules. This also shaped my worldview. Which brings us back to where we are right now. The decency, kindness, courage, respect, generosity, equality and innovation that are part of the ethos of being a citizen of the United STates are very much how I see myself in the world. These values define me and are my star of guidance.
When the leader of the United States veers from these values, to a degree that is unprecedented in my short life, it is my duty and responsibility to speak up. By turning my head and getting lost in the comforts of life I’m ignoring the storm on the horizon. I’m taking my brake hand off the rope. And the last thing I want to do is drop you.
I stand for my fellow humans. Regardless of origin or station in life it is my hope that people will have the food, clothing and shelter to live with a degree of dignity. Being who I am and doing what I do I’m very aware of the privilege I was born into. Rather than hoard it for more it is my foundational belief to use my life as a lever to increase the well being of humanity and leave this planet healthier. It’s a big goal, yet what is life? It’s finding a challenge and giving it your best.
As an athlete my voice carries. This responsibility and opportunity is part of my thought process and, in turn, my decision making. I’m with the leaders in basketball, baseball and football who have been forthright with their views. Respect.
The voice of the marginalized and oppressed people is miniscule. For the animals, plants and planet there is no voice. For them I speak out. This is the small lever I have to make this world a better place.
Climbing is an international language. The act of belaying is a form of communication that is based on trust. “I’ve got your back.” “You’re on belay.” “You got this.” It’s the foundation of our sport, community and life.
In this increasingly polarized world we find ourselves in I find it easier and healthier to be positive. One never knows what the person one interacts with has been through. A smile costs nothing. It brings happiness to everyone in the conversation. What’s not to like about that?
Thanks for reading. If I have affirmed your life values I am humbled. If my views have offended you: my apologies.
be good ~ be kind ~ be happy