Friday, April 08, 2011

"A Percentage Mental....."

On Outward Bound we had many long engaging discussions while on the trail, or resting and during meals later in the day. One theme that became central was the strong opinions our Instructors had that, while we could learn as many outdoor skills as possible, and practice them often, that a percent of our performance out there would always be mental... On many later adventures with older mountain guides and wild place mentors, I would spark similar discussion to learn of their views on this. They would all agree, even if the percentages changed a bit, that the key element here, be it about skills, fitness, endurance, or persistence past adversity - was indeed a fundamental percentage mental... But what does this mean, what does this look like, I would often ponder further, and still do to this day... We are all very individual adventurers with such varied upbringings, backgrounds, and perceptions. Our natures can be so unique and our nurturing so different too. This crux of a percentage, can be the catalyst or the downfall, but what are those elements in this essential mental component... Is it the persistence we develop over time, particularly under the supportive watchful eye of a seasoned experienced elder out there. Could it be the time and practice we put in, to sort out our skills and develop earned confidence in them. Maybe its the accumulation of the adventure experiences themselves, where we learn there is so much more within us then we ever first knew... Possibly we may have a stubbornness, a persistence of character, a willingness to push a bit further - are these part of our percentage that takes us higher... Might it be the ways and means we each strengthen our convictions, that personal determination we grow from within. This percentage surely is a part of the inherent power of envisioning within our dreams is it not... Is it the way we each seek to clarify and crystallize why we do what we do out there until these become gems of our percentage. Then too, there is that shared source which is created among friends and companions with those potent fellowships and connections. What about that powerful something else - like when we are adventuring for another reason; when we are out there for things beyond ourselves... Essentially this must be found too in the promises and commitments we make to not let others or ourselves down. Is it the assurance we sense if we prepare well, to find out what we each feel we need to know, often from the discussions with those who have gone before, and then we carry this along with us... What about all those techniques, tricks of you will, that we each develop to enhance our focus, to get us up that next bit, to move us on to taking a few more steps; the little 'psyche' kind of strategies that take us a bit further along the trails... A love of the wild places must be a potent part of this percentage too, from the way we feel at home out there, and in the ways the wilds resonate inside of each of us... Then there is the creation and recollection of the memories themselves that certainly make up a piece of this puzzle. Could those hopeful possibilities of time with the wild ones, those special ones out there whom we all are in awe of - could that also be a clue... Is it simply that we accept that these ways, those paths, are means towards becoming the persons we always wanted to be, out there as adventurers, and when we are back here also, are inherently calling out as a mindful percentage... Might it be that there are things within the trials we decide to face when adventuring, those discomforts, adversities, even painful experiences that actually draws us to them... Imagine that - as could it be we are of that hardy group that choose to make things more difficult and challenging for the fun of it. There is surely, clearly, a significantly important percentage mental within all of these paths comprising our adventure approaches. Just as when water finally boils on our mountain stoves, a simple degree beyond its set point, these small percentages will fire our enthusiasms, motivations, and endurance which will certainly all contribute to our adventure endeavors in the wild places... There are likely as many paths to enhancing these mental percentages within our chosen adventure activities, as there are adventurers out there. Therein is the value again of musing and pondering the wonder of why we do what we do when we wander.....DSD


RaisedByTurtles said...

I once read an article by (or interview with) George Lowe who said something to the effect that many of the deaths in the mountains are because we lose patience. The example he gave was going down the wrong couloir on descent on a big mountain (Himalayan or Alaskan peak). His desire told him to just start rapping down the couloir and see if that couloir would go. His reason and experience told him that despite fatigue he had to climb back up the couloir and just keep trying couloirs until he found the right one.

It's such a powerful idea and since I've often had cause to ask myself whether or not I'm making a good decision, or just losing patience.

SummitStones said...

What a wonderful story! That is a great climbing perspective that fits so well with this post. Thanks.