Because it’s there?

My father ran the Kepler track when I was a teenager.  It’s a 67 kilometre run. The first time he attempted it he had a cold, and the weather was bad. He had to pull out, and he got quinsey, a very painful large throat ulcer. He was in bed for several days. The next year he went back and ran it again. This time he completed it, in a faster time than he’d expected.

People often ask why one does these things. The cliche response, especially to why you’d climb a mountain, is “because it’s there”. To me, it’s not so much because it’s out there in the world, it’s because there’s a mountain inside you that you have to climb. It’s a question of faith, you believe you are capable of something you’ve never done before. The only way to test that belief is by doing it in the world, but the challenge is within you.

The purpose is not to get the photos from the top of Mt Kilamanjaro, or the certificate for completing the marathon. It’s not even to be able to say to other people that you’ve done it. It’s to know within yourself that you can.

Anything we take on that we’ve never done before, anything that scares us, anything we think we might fail at but we do anyway, this is what makes us grow. So climb your mountains, run your marathons, travel to those places you’re scared to but know you have to, and ignore the people who tell you it’s not safe. Just think, would you regret it more if you did, or if you didn’t?

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3 Responses to “Because it’s there?”

  1. pete Says:

    And when you reach the goal, you leave behind in the wake of the achievement, all sorts of other day-to-day issues that don’t scare you so much as they used to. You develop the courage to do something that has a chance of failure, in return for the potential of success. It’s the process of turning hope into faith, by needing to rely on it.

  2. Julian Says:

    Napolean Hill talks about applied faith, and I think that’s that same distinction between hope and faith that you make. It’s faith that is actively directed, applied in the world.

    It also makes me think of JFK’s speech:

    “But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

    We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

  3. The centre of the storm « Pensieve Says:

    […] recently said why I think people do these things, and the role that faith plays in them, but I haven’t said […]

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