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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Breathe and Let Go

Expectation is such a double edge sword. On one hand, it helps give the motivation and confidence to fully commit to things because you expect to be able to do it. On the other hand, it does create this discord within oneself when you fail to meet your expectations. It’s so easy to fall into that rabbit hole of berating yourself and falling deeper into the vicious circle.

We all would do well to remind ourselves from time to time that we are not invincible and we are not limitless. To be able to listen to oneself and to take a more overview perspective to be able to see the upwards trend in progression is so important. Yes we should set goals and work with expectations but we are the only person we will ever get to be in this life. If you are keep knocking yourself down from not meeting expectations, to what purpose does that serve?

April’s Fool

I recently went through a wobble in relation to my work and lifestyle at the moment. Coming back from travelling into a full blown long hours London lifestyle was something I chose for several reasons:

– because I craved working in the mentally stimulating environment of the business sphere

– it was a good way for me to support myself with a decent wage whilst trying to figure out what it was I ultimately wanted

– because it was familiar

Having seen that I don’t need a lot of money to be happy, it’s felt wrong to be here since I’ve been back. I got so caught up trying to use this period as a stepping stone that I had a mini freak out at the idea that I might be settling back down. The last thing I want is to get too comfortable and then never leave. What is it with my mind and always thinking like each new development is the end all and be all?

I am slowly accepting that the person I am today is similar but not the person I was last November. I think it was just harder this time round because I had such hopes and expectations built into that version of me and the path that I would take. There’s no reason why I couldn’t go back down that path again though.

There is no rush Louisa. You can enjoy your time whilst you are here. As the tattoo on your leg reminds you, “this too shall pass” so you may as well try and be present whilst you can.

It Baffles Me

Just how the guys I date all seem to have the same recurring faults. Why is it none of you seem have any sort of emotional maturity? Or even know how to deal with emotion? And then those of you who don’t know how to communicate, who just shut off, how have you managed to get this way? I really struggle to understand.

If you think it’s easy to find just a male who can communicate competently and can express their emotions I think you’ll find you are very wrong.

I’m not sure I even know what to think anymore. I would love to find someone who can communicate, who possesses empathy and is comfortable expressing emotions. Along with all the other criteria, reliable, affectionate, intelligent, self assured, adventurous. I think I’m chasing a ghost, better off just focusing on that comfy sofa and big dog.

A Game of Flee and Return

Currently on an airplane off to Spain for a couple of days of climbing. It’s just dawned on me that this is the first time I’ve left the country since I got back from the US in November. That might not sound long – it is only the end of January – but it feels like a lifetine ago. All the joys, feeling enthralled, hurt, sorrow still echo inside me but have become more muted. I suppose that’s an advantage (or disadvantage) of being based somewhere fast paced like London.

I suppose I am fully back now. And yet, every single step I take, I don’t feel like I fully returned. I am physically here, but not all of my soul is. I like to think it’s because I’ve scattered it across the world in some sort of romantic but really quite impractical manner. The urge to leave that resonated with me before my travels is akin to an elephant tripping and crashing into a pots and pans store.

Sit down Louisa, think up a plan and execute it. One day, this game of Flee and Return will become Flee and Visit.

New Year, Old Me

Just some scattered, rambling thoughts today. I like to use writing like a silent therapist/ philosopher buddy.

How is it that we trust? It’s an interesting aspect of human connections and although it is not unique to homo sapiens, what makes it remarkable is that it is something which we can build and place in complete strangers who we have no right to meet in the natural world. Someone born in South America can very conceivably meet and become friends with someone from Europe in this day and age which suggests location is not a limiting factor.
So what is it then? Thinking through it, I distilled it into a couple of elements:

1) Meeting the expectations set. In the sense, if you have a good friend, likelihood is they are seen as reliable by you that if you were in a time of need, they can be there for you. When someone suddenly drops off with no explanation, it can bring about feelings of abandonment and neglect since we do not expect that. So long as said friend meets the expectations held for them, this helps continue the trust. Although I would argue that perhaps this is a variable factor in its importance of trust depending on the individual.

2) Your impression of that person. You think you know that person, so therefore they are a relatively known quantity and thus you can make the judgement of whether you can place trust in them or not depending on the scenario. However, and this is the bit I don’t understand, people are never a fixed quantity. We are constantly changing, adapting, learning and we continuously have to learn new things about ourselves. So how is it that we view the people in our lives as set personalities?

In response to the second point, I think partly we have to operate on this level to be able to conduct our own lives with us in the centre, we cannot try to learn and understand down to the smallest detail all the people around us. Time is limited and therefore we build “profiles” of what we know about people in order to understand where we sit (and thus what the options are) and how to move forward.

But humans are a perfect example of a paradox in so many ways. Particularly, for the purpose of this essay, in the way that we crave change but at the same time hate change and crave routine and/or stability. The modern society churns out people who are eager to go to school, go to university (optional but preferable), find a job in a career, find a partner at some point, settle down and start a family. And yet, as mentioned above people are ever-changing so how can this restrictive template fit all people? Perhaps that’s why it’s a cliche that people go through some sort of crisis anywhere between 20-60 or perhaps even later (because we all know that cliches have some element of truths). We are conditioned from such a young age that there are constants in your life – or near enough. And this helps creates feelings of being connected, purpose and security. And yet, those of us with curiosity and the courage to explore, will not be satisfied by just those. If those three aspects were the only things we ever craved then no-one would ever move away or travel.
As I write this, I realise I am wholly speaking for me and possibly other people who might think along similar lines to me. I am aware that there are masses of people who are born, grow up, live and die in the same town – knowing the same people, same routines their whole lives. Each to their own but I don’t personally understand that. Side note – how much does it count as philosophy if the conclusions you draw are very much biased to only you? Hmmm….

Another implication of the thinking you know someone (because you think of them based on your prior knowledge and experience of them), is that your library of knowledge is limited by being built from historical interactions. Since we do not spend 24 hours of everyday with anyone, not even our partners, how is it that we feel like we know someone? How much do we fill in the gaps with our imaginations? And is it even possible to know someone? (That one’s a real con in the relationship debate)

The last paragraph was driven by me having just re-watched Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (great but very sad movie) in which there is a point that is made that you can continue to learn about someone even if they have expired. Just for context. But it’s a very real question that circles in my mind. Any opinions are welcome.

I don’t really make New Years Resolutions because as a true realist, I know new habits do not take unless you build them into your routine. But for 2019 and onwards, I do aim to try and adopt the perspective that people are less of a permanent quantity. For some who may read this piece, it might sound not that big of a deal, for me as I am it is.

Happy New Year and Good Luck to all in 2019

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.