Torching Everest

It’s interesting how news reaches us, even in today’s world of instant gratification and technological interconnectedness.  Take the recent Everest record-breaking that’s been going on.  I had no idea that before Mr. Sherchan, the oldest man to climb Everest was 71 years old and Japanese.  And while I may have guessed that a Sherpa held the record for the most times to the summit, I wouldn’t have known that the amount of times was 18, until today.  I also would have had no idea that as many as 80 climbers might reach the summit on one of its busiest days.  Just think of it – one of the loneliest, most desolate spots on the face of the Earth, and now it has up to 80 people trudging up and down on it.  In the scale of the mountain, that’s not many, but it’s still many more than I would’ve expected.

Also unexpected, and garnered from this article, was the fact that the Chinese carried the Olympic torch to the summit.  A poetic gesture, I’m sure, but a little ridiculous to my mind.  Why not take it on a space shuttle, or to the moon, since the Chinese have so recently been there, and let it burn in a special case with just enough air on that desolate surface.  Or are the Olympics strictly an Earth-bound exhibition of talent?  And, in protection of the Everest relay, why did the Nepalese government ‘close the mountain’, hoping to bar torch relay protesters?  In addition to the fact that the Chinese relay team accessed Everest from Tibet (which I find highly amusing, under the circumstances), which we can assume the Chinese government would prevent any protesters from accessing, were there really threats of opposition climbing Mount Everest just to thwart torchbearers?  What are they going to do at the summit?  Grab the torch and roll down the mountain?  Throw it off the side in a gesture far from media or any kind of real publicity?  Do we still lived in the crazed, competitive era of man that compelled slightly neurotic men to run off towards the North Pole in order to get there first?  What is this intense need to win we seem to all have, and what are we all really fighting for?  Recognition?  Fame?  Pride?

I would like to see the world strive a bit more, perhaps for the greater good or just for personal ambition, but without trying to rip itself apart at the same time.


The Renaissance Woman.

Sometimes I wish I did more.  My general life is filling and rewarding as it is for the most part.  However, occasionally I see something or hear about someone so cool that I wish I had already dedicated my life to following in their footsteps.  Like Miss Elizabeth Bennet, I want to be truly accomplished.  I want to play more musical instruments (probably the harp, banjo, guitar, hammered dulcimer, and tuba) and practice the piano and viola skills I already have.  I want to learn more about music (popular and otherwise) and try my hand a bit more at composing.  I want to learn Swahili, probably in association with a fully Bantu language, and brush up on my French, Arabic, and Mandarin.  I would like to learn more about anthropology and archeology, and possibly volunteer for a dig somewhere.  I would like to design or invent a variety of poverty ameliorating devices that would properly showcase my flare for problem-solving.  I’d like to work in some sort of space-creation again – landscape architecture, set design, interior planning, urban sculpture.  I’d like to paint more, and really practice with oils, which I only just minimally understand.  I’d like to have a garden to putter around in and learn about.  I want to read, write, and play.  Mostly though, I’m a Jack of all trades and master of none.  I start on something ambitious, and my own standards of perfection lead me to quit before I’m anywhere close to ahead.

However, there are occasional little glimmers that draw me back into the tasks I’ve momentarily set aside.  Sarah‘s freelancing career was one of these.  I thought to myself, ‘Hey, I’m a writer, I could do that!’  And I did talk about it with her over email, and check out a book and look at some things online.  But the interest slowly waned.  Then, in reading Shape and Colour, I saw the post on Erika Janunger and hurried to check out her website.  I thought to myself, I’m a designer (of sorts), I can sing.  I could so do cool stuff like that!  Heck, I first started playing the viola just because other people were learning stringed instruments for fun.

I wonder if this momentary burst of enthusiasm is just admiration, or if it’s something else.  I am intrigued by the idea of following your fancies or passions.  I’m intrigued by the idea of people moving from one area of study to the next: Da Vinci, Franklin, Le Corbusier.  It has been said that with today’s extensive specialization, no one can acquire the knowledge to be a true polymath anymore.  We’re all lost somewhere between choosing a specific path  and becoming mediocre at everything.  With women now balancing work and family life in an increasingly competitive economic environment, mediocrity is not allowable.  But while I’m not going to realize greatness in everything, I still intend on shooting for the moon.  If I don’t jump quite that high, I still hope to come down with 4 or 5 greatnesses, at least in my own personal life.