Over the holidays, we took our niece and nephews to see the Hobbit, Part Deux. Perhaps my favorite part of the movie was looking over at my 6 year old nephew, who was fist pumping the air with both arms, so excited was he during a particularly climactic moment in the film. That is pure, unadulterated stoke, I thought to myself.
This past week, Tracy and I took nine teenagers into a backcountry hut in the Elk Mountains. We were surrounded by some incredibly spectacular terrain, and while most is too dangerous to ski mid-winter, it still made for an incredibly awe inspiring and motivating backdrop for our daily adventures. After topping out on a small sub-peak in the area, I glanced over to see one of our students looking out on a panorama of snow covered, 13,000′ cathedrals of stone, fist pumping with both arms. He was stoked out of his mind, being an aspiring alpinist, and we had brought him to a sacred place.
I don’t know why I get to do the things I do, while many in the world will never have the chance. And while that is a philosophical conversation that could go on without end, I do know that I am incredibly grateful for these experiences, and I think that in itself is important.
We can too easily become complacent as human beings, it seems to be in our nature to assume that our norm is the standard for everyone. When you grow up, you think everyone lives like you, until you realize they don’t. But even as adults, we can forget how amazing the opportunities in our lives are, and complain about things like “it only snowed three inches” or “I broke a hold on my project, I am so pissed,” when people who are merely wondering where their next meal might come from would probably look at us like we live in a different universe.
When I stare up at massive spires of rock and snow, something stirs deep within me. And if I ever lose that perspective, that gratitude, I hope the memory of a 17 year old, looking out on the deeps of the Elk Range, fist pumping the universe with both arms, will bring me back to just how incredible this all truly is.