Writing blogs about books, as I told a friend in our weekly conversation a few days ago, provides a ‘borrowed structure.’ Borrowed, that is, from the property of the author. Allowing me to follow their path and put my opinion right at the end. I know, its sort of cheating, isn’t it? But it’ll get the mind working, and sometimes even produce something half-decent.
The book I’m reading currently is Facing Up, by Bear Grylls, the host of Man Vs. Wild. He wrote this on his Mount Everest summit attempt. I use the word ‘attempt’ because I’m not done with the book, and the point where I’m at, as I write this, he is still at Base Camp. Hence, my usage of the term ‘summit’ even if the back cover suggests otherwise. Quite stubbornly, I’m sticking with the adage, ‘I’ll believe it when I read it.’
Reading about his journey so far has made me question the nature of our everyday life, and whether we encounter any real struggle, if at all. In comparison to an Everest attempt, our struggle is nothing. You can use the modern-day justification of ‘what’s difficult to you may not be difficult for everyone else,’ but soft lines like these don’t work when talking about scaling the tallest mountain in the world, nor should it. There’s very little physical struggle comparable to summiting Everest. The life of a ‘someone’ with such ambitions, is tough, in the harshest sense of the word.
Bear during his Everest attempt was 23, the same age I am as I write this. In that time he has reached Everest Base Camp and higher [I won’t give it away that easy], spent three months in altitudes about 15,000 feet and is attempting to summit Everest, all after he quit the British Army, during which he suffered a back injury that nearly derailed everything he’s doing in the book and everything he’s known for now. My question is, as I read the book is what ignited the primal spirit in a 23-year old that made him want to say, [if he does end up summiting Everest] — ‘Right, now that I’m done climbing the highest mountain in the world, I’m going to spend the next few decades showing people how to survive in the wild, drink their own urine, and eat everything that moves.’ To me, sitting in a comfortable chair, typing into a laptop [as opposed to Bear’s typewriter, the man is authentic], it seems a world away.