Ordinary People – Achieving Great Things

Climbers nearing summit of Mt Everest“But there are men for whom the unattainable has a special attraction. Usually they are not experts; their ambitions and fantasies are strong enough to brush aside the doubts which more cautious men might have.

Determination and faith are their strongest weapons. At best such men are regarded as eccentric; at worst, mad…”

 These are words penned by the legendary mountaineer, Walt Unsworth, and they have had a profound effect on me since I read them a number of years ago.

At the time when he penned them he was making a broader comment on climbers heading to Mt Everest.

 These words summed me up perfectly, I thought.

I’m sure many will be able to relate to them equally, regardless of what your pursuits are…

Over the years I have pursued a whole range of activities, some adventurous, others less so – but I have always been driven by a desire to simply embrace life…

Sweet Dreams Climb, Blue Mountains, Australia

And I have never considered myself an expert in any of them, but it has always been a fierce determination that has seen me through; a strong faith in my ability to grasp the key things, to put them into practice.

I’ve never considered anything I’ve done as a failure, but I’ve had plenty of learning experiences, set-backs that have helped me to learn, to grow, and to develop. I’m thankful for those set-backs, as they have made me stronger.

 Eccentric; mad; yes, I’ve been referred in that way many times.

Baz over Picton, Australia

 Today, I wear those comments proudly, like a badge.

 Walt’s words have encouraged me to have the confidence to pursue my dream of climbing large mountains, to consider making an attempt on the summit of Mt Everest, in the least, to have the courage to admit that I want to climb it.

Summit of Grey's Peak

 Acknowledging your dreams is probably the greatest step you can make towards them becoming a reality…

The power of thought should never be under estimated, both positive, and negative.

Every day on Wordspress, millions of words are written by ordinary people, stories about the challenges life has thrown at them, what they have done, and continue to do to overcome them.

About their dreams and aspirations, their highs and lows…

Ordinary people who want to improve their fitness, to lose weight, to cycle across a city,  or across the world.

Baz - Mountain Run, Coast to Coast Race, New Zealand

Many have their sights set on a fun run, and others having completed one, setting their sights towards running a marathon.

For others, it is their challenge to become stronger, to be able to lift more, or about capturing that once in a life-time photograph, perhaps testing a new recipe to share with friends, or with people they have never met.

Weight lifting in "The Shed"

Others talk about health and lifestyle challenges they struggle with, that they have overcome.

I read as many of them as I can, they motivate me, and they provide me with much needed inspiration…

Seemingly, there is always someone in this cyberspace community ready to reach out, to congratulate, to console…

These people aren’t super-elite athletes, or neither five-star chefs, nor are they fitness gurus.

They have a much greater status than that, for they are simply ordinary people, the same people that Walt Unsworth wrote about when he penned those words…

To those who aspire to do their best, to challenge themselves, I say never give in, you’re not alone out there, dream big, and pursue your dreams…

But on ordinary people, yes I’ve referred to people as ordinary, but in reality, there is no such thing as ordinary people, we are all unique, we all contribute to the mosaic that makes up the world we live in…

PNG Kokoda

It would be a boring place if we were all the same…

We’d never learn, grow, or develop as people.

Take the time to read over Walt’s musings a couple of times, because he was speaking about you…

Draw on the strength of his writing, it is powerful…

 Above all else remember – There are no ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives…

Menari Village, Papua New Guinea

Security is mostly a superstition (Isn’t it?)

Living life to the fullest, taking risks, knowing your limitations, these are questions I frequently ponder. It isn’t something I dwell on, it is more of a musing from time to time.

And I have always been encouraged by the words penned by Helen Keller

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in name, nor do the children of man as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Janet, my partner, thinks along the same lines and is always very supportive of the adventures I have undertaken. The only questions she usually asks are have you thought through the risks, prepared as best you could, and are you ready?

I’m fortunate to have someone so supportive. Mind you, Janet is no wall-flower when it comes to adventure and applies the same principles of risk assessment herself. Whether when she jumps from a plane, or abseils down a building!

My mountaineering goals are as high as the largest mountains that can be found. I want to experience the joy and satisfaction, the freedom and beauty that mountains can bring into our lives.

It is a personal thing, shared by many and what better place to do it than the majestic Himalayan Mountains

And rest assured, I have no morbid fascination of pushing to the limits of flirting with death, I’ll be happy to slowly slide away peacefully when my time comes!

And I have been cogniscant of the impact it has on those around me,both negative and positive, and especially our son, TomO.

We want to bring him up in an environment where he is encouraged to pursue his dreams and to believe that anything is possible. We feel that this is possibly one of life’s most important lessons.

He is showing signs that he is heading down this path of thinking…willing to throw himself at life!

He has been keen to play tennis and took his first lessons the other day.  I was fortunate to be able to go and watch him, taking an early mark from work and I could see the enjoyment on his face.  Now it is fair to say he wasn’t the best out there, in fact his tennis skills are quite limited. He knew that, but wasn’t concerned.

Coming off the court he said, “Dad, I loved it and I had a lot of fun, even if I’m not very good. I just need to work on it.”

And that attitude pleases both Janet and me…

He isn’t concerned that someone is better, that his skills are lacking.

English: Mount Everest North Face as seen from...

I have a stated goal to climb Cho Oyu in 2014, which seems a long way off, but as we all know, time seems to fly-by so fast.  But in all honesty, Cho Oyu is part of a bigger journey and TomO casually asked me a few months ago whether I intend to attempt a climb of Mt Everest.

I wanted to be measured in my answer, but truthfully the answer is yes, so I just told him that.

Highlighting that it is a journey that may take me there, but it isn’t my real focus just at the moment. In fact, the journey isn’t about climbing Mt Everest either, but it hopefully will form part of the dream, the journey, to see what I am capable of…

One step at a time is what I told him and if it goes the way I would like, and I retain good health, then it might be a chance sometime in the next 2-3 years, maybe sooner.

Before climbing in New Zealand recently, TomO left me a note to say that one day he might be standing on top of Mt Everest with me.

He had obviously given it some thought…

I’ve spent some time reading that note over.

Perhaps it is a dream, a child’s feeling of wanting to follow in the footsteps of those close to them, to emulate them.

The other day I casually asked him was that truly a goal he would like to pursue? Asking what was his motivation to do it?

“Yes”, he said.  “How great it would be to experience that feeling of the mountains you have described to me, and doing it together makes it even better.”

He shows maturity beyond his age sometimes. Mind you, he is a 12-year old, so rest assured, not all the time!

Janet was there and we both told him there is plenty of time to think it through, although we highlighted that he will need to prepare for it if that is his dream, his desire…

Maybe the enormity of the task is lost on him presently and we will see how it unfolds. There is no pressure from us and we are ever so careful to ensure he understands that, no matter what it is he is pursuing. We are placing no expectations on him whatsoever, but endeavouring to help him understand it is important to develop and set your own expectations.

But it puts to the test our resolve to support him in any endeavour he wants to undertake.

Later, I asked Janet what she thought of “her boys” heading off to Mt Everest together?

Her reply was simple and uncomplicated.

“It scares me”, she said

“But if that time comes I will walk every step of the way to base camp with you, after all life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”