I have been meeting a lot of people nowadays who are venturing into mountaineering with the goal of climbing Mount Everest. While some of these people have a genuine interest in the sport, a vast majority seem a little lost about the actual idea behind why we go on expeditions and why we undertake these adventures.
Like upon being asked about why does one want to climb Mount Everest, a vast majority of the above-mentioned people don’t have a clear answer and are too scared to say that they are climbing for vainglory, for the brag right of having climbed the highest mountain in the world; so instead they shrink the question by quoting Goerge Mallory’s famous “because it’s there” statement. Not fully understanding that his irritated comment was born out of the pestering of journalists who at point of time couldn’t see the burning desire of exploration in him, a desire to see what lies on the roof of the world or how the world looks from it’s top and it was born out of an inability to share the same vision, the same hunger of curiosity with people who had deemed climbing Everest at that time as a futile endeavor.
A lot of these people who go on to climb Everest, have that mountain as a final frontier to their mountaineer journies and rightly so, because if you are looking for glory and validation, no other mountain in the world will give you as much glory and validation as Everest does. But this particular glory is also what clouds the actual idea behind these once epic adventures.
For the answer to the question of what lies at the heart of any adventure, one has to break the barrier of glory in that particular field. Like in mountaineering, one has to first get an answer to the question of what lies in the field beyond Everest?
Because this answer lies in the journey. It lies in full-cycle that a mountaineer has to complete to truly understand the essence of it (*and hopefully still be alive).
In mountaineering once, you have climbed Everest, you have more or less achieved the pinnacle of glory that the field can provide. And at this junction, there are two paths that divulge and you take the one that you feel for.
Like one path is normally taken by people who now have the glory they wanted, they now have the brag right that they can flaunt, these people normally quit the painful and arduous field of active mountaineering and go on with their lives. Sometimes telling stories about grit and determination and planning and other positive trails.
And the other path is taken by people who experience something unique while on the expedition. They figure out that climbing this mountain was only a beginning in understanding the full essence of what lies ahead, that the only time they feel completely alive is when they are completely engrossed in the process of the climb and driven by the sense of curiosity, they have started to enjoy the trance of nothingness that they somehow fall in. The takers of this path, then go on to break the barrier of glory and go on explore what lies beyond glory. These people then go on to climb more mountain, sometimes in the pursuit of finding their perfect line, the most complete climb, a climb that takes them to the pinnacle of the above-mentioned trance and the curiosity of finding or discovering this pinnacle-de-trance clubbed with the freedom of their expression that they experience is what then starts to fuel them.
And once these people go on enjoying this particular intoxication, newer and newer expeditions are born. Newer horizons are explored, Newer discoveries are made. A newer perspective is seen. A better world is made. This sense of curiosity is what is at the heart of all these explorations, all these adventures. And surprisingly it is the same curiosity which has also fueled the greatest inventions and discoveries of the world. A curiosity about a falling apple led to the discovery of the concept of gravity, a curiosity of a better health led to the discovery of various vaccines, a curiosity of a better governance led to the discovery of democracy, a curiosity about nature led to the understanding of various flora and fauna species, a discovery of geographies led to the making of maps and globes and climbing of mountains.
So at the heart of ‘Adventure’ is the sense of ‘Exploration and’ at the heart of exploration is ‘Curiosity’, which is surprisingly also at the heart of all great things in the world.
So……….. what are you curious about?