The Perils of Easy

el capitan by connor-hegarty

written by john c ashworth

The perils of convenience and distraction.

Difficulty.  Challenge.  Messiness, and obstacles requiring your attention are the main ingredients of life.  The sooner you’re willing to embrace this truth the better. Yes. It took me awhile too.

The trouble is that we all harbor a sheer willingness to avoid this fact and focus on convenience, easy, and immediate gratification.  This distracts us from the journey.  In spite of the fact that the journey is where all the magic happens.

This makes me think of the free climber, Alex Honnold.  The dude is crazy to climb all those mountains with no ropes.  If you haven’t yet watched him, I encourage you to spend some time with his courageous brilliance.

Think of how focused he must remain on the journey to the top.  In every step, reach, pull, slither, or otherwise sly approach to the incredibly difficult obstacles along the way, there is an opportunity to lose focus on the journey and begin thinking about the top.  The destination.  The ultimate goal.  The fame and fortune that might await. In the case of the free-climber, this kind of distraction is unspeakable, because it leads to death. As I have heard Alex put it, “If I’m up there, and I start to think like that? Something has gone terribly wrong.”

Personally, I’m more than willing to admit that I could never overcome the fear I have of scaling the side of a mountain, ropes or not.  Nor is it something I feel compelled to do, ever. It’s not my thing.

Still, when I watch this dynamo and ponder his prowess, I discover an important truth about the journey and what it has the potential to create in all of us.  A very powerful and real connection to the present moment that is absolute in its ability to make us feel totally alive and free from fear, expectations, outcomes, and rewards.  Free from anything other than keeping our grip and staying connected to exactly what’s next.

Your presence on the journey demands your constant attention to the next step and nothing else.  

This is not to discount the kind of preparation and planning and meticulous care to detail that every important and successful journey must have possessed in it’s beginning.  That is essential.  But once that journey has begun, and you are hanging off the edge with no other way forward than your fearless attention to the moment, you are no longer allowed to stray from the force of life that is holding you to the cliff face.  

You are no longer allowed to pretend that anything else matters.


photo by Connor Hegarty