Death, Our Constant Companion

News of the presumed death of Hansjorg Auer, David Lama and Jess Roskelley are making their rounds within the climbing and mountaineering community.

I don’t really know what to say.

It’s hard to grasp when the people you admire, who are three of your community’s and mankind’s best, are taken away by the very venture they excel at.

It’s humbling in a way. No matter how good you are at your trade, if nature decides it, then an avalanche will lay waste to you. It doesn’t give a fuck about how expert you are. And yet we play at nature’s feet. Because we’re compelled to, because we’re not living if we don’t. Like an analogy I read once, I believe from Alex Honnold – Alone on the Wall, as a climber to not live the life you are drawn to, is like to have a sports car and only drive it to the end of the road at speed limit and back.

But damn.

I had the fortune of being at an event a couple of years ago where Hansjorg Auer premiered his film “No Turning Back” and had a Q&A session with the host. He had such a raw energy about him, it’s hard to connect that with the fact that he, along with brilliant David Lama and Jess Roskelley, are gone. The energy dissipated. What hits home even harder is that David Lama is the same age as me. All of them brilliant and in their prime, just gone.

Death eventually comes for all of us. Events like this serves as a heavy reminder and give us pause to reflect, contemplate and mourn. But it should never deter us from our dreams for adventure. To show respect to the dead, to ourselves, we need to carry on with their memories and continue living the life we must. The life that we wouldn’t be living without.

Rest in peace guys, you may be gone but you won’t be forgotten.

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Mourning a Ghost

I still miss you. I can hardly believe it myself but I do. I’ve always found it tricky to let go and move on after relationships but I’ve never stuck around for long. It’s coming up to five months and I still feel a deep sense of loss when flashbacks ambush me or when I wonder about you. It’s slowly dawning on me that maybe it will always be that way.

It’s frustrating to be in this circle. I think about you, feel the sadness, get frustrated that it’s still so dominant but allow myself to feel in the hope that I’m working through it and thus it goes round.

I’m not pining. I’m pulling hard hours at work, see friends, climb, yoga and plan trips to escape the city. I joke, laugh, rant and cry. I’m a different person to the one I was already but emotionally I am still there.

I’ve worked through it rationally as much as I need to. I know I’m fine on my own, and I understand from an overall perspective things as they were, why things happened. But nothing helps this sense of loss that hits me in the core and I can’t shake.

The worst part of it all is that the person I miss isn’t even the you that you are now. Or even the you who you were five months ago when we broke up. I miss the you from almost a year ago (doesn’t time fly quickly?). The worst part of it is knowing the person I miss doesn’t even exist right now. I am mourning a memory. I have no precedent of how this goes. All I can do is see how it goes just to keep going.

Saying Goodbye

I’ve never found it easy to let go of things. I think that’s probably why I usually default to cutting people off when relationships end. It’s hard to go from being romantically involved with someone to being friends without having been that in the first place.

I miss you. It’s frustrating how much I do but I know I need to give myself time. I don’t want to ruin all the memories that I have in order to move on when it was the relationship I’ve treasured the most. I want to respect the fact that despite the low I’m in now because of it, I also had a high I never had before. Even though in my mind it ended when it shouldn’t have, it doesn’t change what was.

You said you loved me but weren’t in love with me, and I absent-mindedly wonder whether you truly understand what it means to be in love and in a relationship. One day you may meet someone you grow to feel more for than me, you also may not. I accept that but it no longer matters to me. I know what our relationship and you were to me and that’s all matter to me now.

And whilst there were plenty of things about me you deemed “not right” for you, that also works in reverse. You scorned at the fact that I have a city background, to me you couldn’t even begin to fathom half of the situations that I deal with day to day living and working in London. I grew up in a countryside town, city life has only been applicable in my working life – it certainly doesn’t define me. But whilst I don’t envisage my future being city based, I do greatly enjoy the things they offer. Sometimes just as much as I enjoy being outdoors and going on adventures in isolated places. I like to adapt and I want to do it all. You certainly didn’t fit in all that – although I fully accepted this. I guess what I’m trying to say is, in some ways I’m glad I no longer have to limit myself in order to make our relationship work. We would’ve certainly widened each others horizons to say the least. For someone who likes to think of himself as open minded and self-aware, you are hypocritically small minded – your obstinance in leading the life you planned out for yourself blinds and limits you.

I do hope you are well and I have every faith you will execute everything you have in your plan. Thanks for the memories and I hope you find what you think you’ll find.

Self Reflection

The future is so uncertain and at times frightening, I don’t know what I want to do, I don’t know who I’ll “end up with”, I don’t know where I want to settle down and be. These thoughts would’ve been overwhelming and so heavy in weight a year ago, but days of recent times it’s not had the same influence.

To the person who I was this time last year, I know you’re in immense pain. The last couple of months and the months following will be the hardest and most heart-crushing pain you will have ever gone through. You will learn some truths that goes against some fundamental principles you held dear, but you will grow from it. Don’t try and hold tightly on who you were because that Louisa is dead and gone, all you can do is look forward. The new you is not worse or better but just is. You will be pushed to the furthest edge of the mortal cliff, you will come back having gained a better idea of where the drop-off is and make peace with it. All of this will be a trial by fire which will give you a new skin of cold, hard steel when you finally emerge – a process that is slow and not a quick transformation by any means. Well done on being you Louisa, I’m proud that you are still here and have made the last year what you have. Shit happens all the time. People will do awful things intentional or unknowingly, but do them they will nonetheless and that’s not within your control. You are the master of only your own actions.

One thing that I did learn about myself in the last year was the existence of my anxiety which has always accompanied me and been an obstacle in many situations. Living in London did not help things, being in such a high pressure city where there’s little love for strangers on the street, where there is little time to get from A to B it feeds anxiety and sometimes it would make me feel and act small. The new skin of cold steel has been priceless in gaining clarity on when this affects me and helps me challenge why it is I should feel small (to which the answer is always “no real reason”). It’s a big but subtle change. The best way of explaining this is to liken it to how Evie changes in V for Vendetta after V tortures to “free” her from her fears. I suppose when you’ve stared into the eyes of something so dark, nothing feels as bad anymore.

My lowest point last year was being unable to answer what my motivation was in life, what I wanted to do, what direction I was to have. When I rationally thought it through, I rationally saw that there was no point to my life. My life (as with all other lives, it is not special) is an accumulation of moments, relationships and knowledge learnt. But without feeling a reason (and I still don’t, this is not something I think I can change), nothing I do matters. It got to the point where I saw logic in ending my life – although I have to stress that I was not suicidal. There is a distinction, albeit nuanced, between feeling like you need to end your life and seeing the logic in ending life. Being the latter, it also allows me to carry on to see what the alternative is, because what else am I going to do otherwise? As dark and possibly twisted this post is, I wanted to be brutally honest about how I felt, what I continue to feel. I am still alive and actually doing really well. I have a new job and a new house lined up, I’m about to go visit my boyfriend in the US. I don’t need help, and I’m currently not seeking help. I feel perfectly in control and at peace with who I am at this moment in time and what happened. The purpose of writing this was to point out that no one needs to be happy 100% of the time. That’s not human. Dark thoughts happens in all of us, but they need to be conversed with. Why are you feeling the way you feel? Don’t try and shirk from it – the most unhealthy thing here is denial.

The event that threw me into the existential blender of the past year was atrocious. It is heinous, despicable and should never have to happen to anyone. But having spoken to people who have had similar if not worst tales to tell, and having had time to process, I’m glad it happened. I am who I am today because of it and what I did after. How much I learnt is something that I’m fiercely proud of which no one can take away from me.