Silly Grins

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Pros and Cons of S&M (done)

Never, in our conversational classes, had we ever learned vocabulary or expressions that could adequately communicate what he was going to do with the tool he'd acquire. 

(All of the photos in this post were taken by Mr. M, the masochist)

He'd come in with a friend looking for an English teacher. The Sadist, Mr. S, was already good enough at reading and speaking, perhaps due to his homestays and all that other good fortune he'd been lucky enough to have had access to.

Mr. M started off at a completely different level, with a completely different outlook and completely different set of dreams. Getting past the basic greeting was an arduous chore, at least in the beginning. Kind of like starting to climb a mountain where the first few steps seem to be the toughest.

I vaguely remember him telling me, at the very beginning of the journey, where he wanted to go with this. Not like I didn't take him seriously...I just thought, well, it's all up to him, really. He's got to be the one to do it. I can't do it for him.

He was dreaming, and he was dreaming big.

Maybe six years later and a test-climb somewhere in Southeast Asia, he went for it in Africa.

He went on a solo journey to climb that mountain. Yeah, there were risks, risks perhaps better described through borrowed words from people who've actually been there. Moore's missive still seems to do a good job at it:

'Most of you will experience some head pain, nosebleeds and unexpected vomiting along with fatigue and shortness of breath,' he continued... 'You've probably heard these symptoms described as Acute Mountain Sickness.' Someone nodded slowly. 'Here we call that Ordinary Mountain Sickness.'

"On the way back to our huts I noted a rank of well-used wheeled stretchers..." -Moore 

On the way up, he said the road seemed to just go on forever. 

Disappearing into the clouds... 

Even the most primitive of places became luxuries...

And every snack...a feast

The Africafe Coffee was some of worst stuff he'd tasted, but then he smiled and said that he actually grew to like it in the short time he was on the continent. 

His last night on the way up, he was sure to get a lot of rest before being roused an hour before midnight and ordered to slap on a thick layer of sunscreen along with every layer of mountain gear he owned. 

Finally, it seemed that he'd done it, reached his goal. 
At least, that's what it looked like as the sun rose 
and the world came into focus.

Even with a view such as this...

He wasn't intent on just sitting...not for too long

Or just walking around the alien terrain...

He wasn't done yet...

Sometimes it seems like the good stuff in life is often that which almost kills us.
And sometimes, it does.

When he got back down to the bottom, he learned the news about the one Swedish valkyrie, the one whose eternal absence will be felt by the remaining number of that group of those half-dozen adventurers who'd been livin' the dream. These kind of journeys apparently get cut short all the time. I'd like to say that it's just part of life and not be able to think about it... 

His guide had told him that when people are reaching for the sky, most of the accidents happen on the way down. That's perhaps the most dangerous part, just after the summit, when the pressure is off, when they are no longer paying attention, rushing, or just tired...

Excuse me...what about that number, you said 4:40, right?!

Almost there...

As he wasn't intent on just sitting, and he had to show up to work the day after he got back, which was a Friday (thank God!), he had a day of rest, on Saturday, before taking that number apart, on Sunday. 

Just two days after returning from climbing Africa's highest mountain, fueled by nothing but jet lag, insanity, and some sort of twisted lust for pain, the fool ran a full marathon. And he finished his just under four hours, his best time ever.

He once tried to thank me for being his teacher. 
I told him that I wouldn't take any credit. Really.  
He'd already paid me.

We then went on to our next lesson to learn about the expression:
"It's all you."


  1. "most of the accidents happen on the way down."

    One of life's unwritten rules. Shit usually happens when you think your past that don't get past that point until you die.

  2. Like that Kilgore character, some people seem to lead a charmed life. A lot of people do make it down the mountain in one piece and have some pretty cool stories to tell, stories that just get better over time.

  3. your mom told you "life is learning". I can see you are a good listener. I have this image of you quietly absorbing everything you hear and see around you, then dissecting, equally dividing it between order and chaos. A man who sees.

  4. Thanks Bigg. You are generous in your assessment.

    For some reason it's easier to look out and away than it is to look inward. Recently, the order and chaos seem to be made up of the same ingredients, just in different stages of an overall repetitious cycle, each a unique combination (never repeated) with its own incomprehensible value. Yeah, sounds kind of cliche', but it is what is seen at this moment.

    But simply absorbing and seeing...there's an amazing sense of freedom that feels a need to be exercised, a freedom to live (just enough), before returning to the chaos.

    The journey continues, for now...