I’m a tremendous admirer of people with big ambitions like explorers and adventurers. They put themselves on the line, not expecting anyone else to do the dirty work for them, and they either succeed or fail. There’s no hiding or fudging your mistakes when you are that sort of person. It’s all out there.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes has to be one of the greatest explorers of our age, and his amazing feat of climbing to the top of Mt Everest this week (and at the age of 65!) alongside his Sherpa is one that many of us are in awe of. (Sorry about the grammar, but how else to phrase it without getting clunky?!)
It’s not just that he climbed Everest – I won’t say ‘conquer’ because I don’t believe you can ‘conquer’ a mountain – and got as close to the moon as any person physically on this earth possibly can, but that it is a personal achievement of a man who has crossed both the poles and suffered extreme conditions in his quest for adventure and exploration.
What he did conquer was that little voice inside his head that kept surfacing every now and then to tell him to give up. He said it was trying to give him excuses not to go on. It’s a fine line to judge when that little voice is just being a pesky nuisance and undermining your determination, and when it is actually being the voice of reason and will save your life, and I guess Sir Ranulph has had more experience than most of making that judgement call. After all, this was his third attempt at Everest.
I watched an interview with him before he made the climb from Base Camp 2, and he said his plan was to keep plodding and plodding and not plan on reaching the summit, just keep his head down and keep plodding. That struck a chord with me. In the days when I used to be fit and cycle 10 miles to college and 10 miles back again, there was a very steep and fairly long hill climb about 10 minutes into the journey. In order to make it to the top of this hill without getting off and walking, I would have to keep my head down and focus on the physical movement of my feet going round and round. If I looked up to see how far I had to go, I lost heart. If I kept my head down and didn’t even think about the end result, I just kept at it until the difficulty eased and I found I’d reached the top.
It’s like that with weaving too. I think I’ve mentioned before that my husband likes to measure everything to know how much more he’s got to do. If I do that, I lose heart and think I’ll finish off another day. If I just focus on the moment, and keep at it, I usually can finish the job.
So, whether it’s a mundane task (like spring cleaning that I’ve got to do this week!!!!), or something I generally like doing like weaving, or something as hugely ambitious as climbing to the summit of Mt Everest, it’s reassuring to know that the same little trick can help get us all to our respective goals, be they large or small!
Kudos Sir Ranulph!!
While I agree with you about keeping your head down and just taking it one step at a time, I have used a bit different approach on finishing the weaving for my finals show. I was weaving 4 pieces of one and a half metres long in fine silk…. it was going to be a long job, bit like the cycling up the hill. The only way I could keep going was knowing how much I had woven each day and how much more I needed to do. It gave me a goal and I work better knowing the goal is in sight.