I’ve been thinking about courage lately. What is courage? What does it take to be courageous? Since I get a lot of media coverage and public speaking engagements for surviving blind and alone on Mount Everest, I’ve been called many things, good and bad…one being courageous. A few decades ago my job was to jump out of US Navy HH-60H helicopters in the middle of the ocean to save downed pilots. Perhaps it takes courage to risk your own life to save another, but none of my SAR (Search and Rescue) buddies would have called it that. It’s just what we did. This past decade I’ve climbed mountains on the 7 continents with a solo summit of both Everest and Aconcagua. Some would say it takes courage to climb big mountains. I think it’s just how I’m wired and what I do.
As each year quickly passes as a father and husband, I’m reminded to ‘be still’, embrace the moment and reflect on the past. It’s not my nature to live in the past since I’m a goal-setter, very driven and live for the adventure. But with each talk or media appearance I’m asked the same resounding question, “what’s next”. I typically rattle off some canned adventurous response that aligns with my past, but lately I’ve been pondering the question more and more. Why does there have to be something next? I think it’s the obvious question for an audience after they’ve heard what I’ve accomplished and survived, but I also think it plays into our society where we always want more. Or we’re expected to deliver more. If you do a good job at work you’re typically rewarded with more work! I see these compulsive behaviors a lot in extreme athletes. It’s the feeling that you have to continually challenge yourself and accomplish amazing feats or else you’ll let yourself or others down. Plus athletes can feel the pressure with social media fans and sponsors. There’s nothing wrong with pushing yourself and experiencing the world as long as it’s done for the right reason. Too much of anything can be a bad thing, so do things in moderation.
So what’s next for me? I’m not one to try to top what I’ve done, but that also doesn’t mean I’ll completely quit living life to it’s fullest. My family is my life so my focus remains on them. To be a present father and model good behavior and values to my kids. To be a present husband and build my wife up so she can shine the way she was created to shine. And I’ll continue to do amazing adventures but not because I’m expected to, but because it’s who I am.
What will you do next?
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)
A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.