Apparently there is a substantial body of research which indicates that if you talk about a goal — finishing your novel, climbing a mountain, eating all two dozen fresh-baked cookies in one sitting — you are LESS likely to achieve it. Whoa, that’s not been my experience, just the opposite. Then again, I’m often deluded. What about you out there in the big wide world? To speak or not to speak, that is the question.
Early morning editing checklist:
1. Laptop? √
2. Black tea with lemon? √
3. Brain? Um . . .
So maybe, um . . . there’s a difference between clearheaded and, um . . . empty headed?
I’m going back and forth between watching college football — Tennessee vs Georgia — and muting the sound during ads to read M.t. Anderson’s Symphony for the City of the Dead — Shostakovich vs the Germans. True, both involve combat, but the stakes in besieged Leningrad were a hundred thousand times (no hyperbole) greater. The violence and suffering endured make football look like a soothing polite dance.
This morning I committed to climb Mt. Rainier next August with a close friend. At 14,410 feet above sea level, Mt. Rainier is the highest point in the Northwest, and a training ground for climbers who want to ascend Denali in Alaska, and Mt. Everest. Why commit ten+ months ahead? According to those in the know, I’d better show up for the climb “in the best shape of my life.”
Wait, I’m 64. Before I launch on the climb I’ll be 65 and eligible for — this rattles my cage — Medicare. The best shape of my life? At sixty-freaking-five? Hmm, is that even possible?
Well, I’m going to find out. Tomorrow morning I’ll head out on a 7-mile run, mostly uphill.
Okay, so it will feel like mostly uphill.
And that is just the beginning. Trail running, strength training, power hikes with a 40-pound pack — I’ll be pushing my body to be ready. Yeah, Mt. Rainier, I’ve got you in my sights. You are now a kedge.
Kedge? What’s a kedge? It’s origin is in the realm of sailing, but I’ll move on without a lot of explanation: a kedge is a goal that you put out there in the future to inspire you, like the proverbial dangling carrot. My kedge is tall. And massive. And will require that I be in the best shape of my life.
Oddly, this feels comforting to me. In the same way that writing a novel feels comforting. Both require commitment, perseverance, and a willingness to endure . . . well, okay, let’s be honest, it requires suffering. Climbing is not easy. Neither is writing a novel. I’ll just keep on keeping on — something I’m actually good at — until I reach the summit.
I may be out of the mountains for awhile, but I hear their call, and am making plans to return. To not go back would be like not writing — both are part of who I am. So many peaks to climb, trails to hike, streams to ford, splendor to soak in. So many stories to tell.
As long as I’m able, I’ll keep living life on the edge.