We are told that the body heals itself when healing occurs. How does this happen?
We are led to believe our mind makes executive decisions, most of which have little consequence and none of which affect our physiology. I don’t accept this. I don’t know how anyone could accept this.
When I was young, nothing happened unless I made it happen. Public education was essentially a huge outhouse into which students and teachers spent their days emptying their guts of insight and experience. With every passing year, students’ personalities became thinner and their output less interesting. The only valuable things were the things that people did themselves.
Teachers were the role models of diuretic personalities, repetitively expelling long-since digested inert material onto the food trays of imprisoned students who were expected to eat it. With few exceptions, teaching was just like any other job, and the result of it was as poorly formed and indigestible as any other cheap plastic product.
I believed what my parents believed, which is what all the other parents believed, which is what everyone seemed to believe. I grew up in an affluent neighborhood, but I knew a few less affluent kids and their parents seemed to believe the same things. In a fit of dissatisfaction, I spent a few months exploring private schools, but they all seemed to be following the same program.
It was around this point that perhaps my father woke up and recognized I had a problem and there was something he could do. My mother could not wake up, but my father took me under his wing and made me his photo-shoot assistant. On the shorter jobs, where the equipment was lighter, I flew with him to cities around the US to photograph colossal, empty office buildings either set amid tens of acres of magazine-perfect gardens, or monument-like intrusions into busy city scapes.
This was a breath of fresh air. The environments may have been contrived and yet to be occupied—he was sent to photograph iconic constructions before they were put into operation—but at least they were real investments in the future. And while our architectural subjects were just finished but unoccupied, I explored new towns, cities, and forests, flying to places I’d never heard of and would never remember.
It wasn’t until a friend returned from Outward Bound—he was 15 while I was only 12—and returned with the idea of exploration. Up until that point all I’d explored was shoplifting and vandalism. The shoplifting was mildly empowering but the vandalism was pathetic. The problem was that I had no maternal emotional support. I was angry.
I was taking steps beyond climbing trees. I was looking at my hands and wondering what they could accomplish. I was developing a sense of creativity. I distinctly remember returning to my high school after my first summer in the big mountains. I put photos in the library. People looked past them as the apocryphal Florida Indians looked past Columbus’s boats as things not of their world.
Mallory answered the question of why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest by saying, “Because it’s there.” The real reason is because extreme experiences force us to become extremely aware of ourselves. Mountains become personal when we risk our lives in getting to know them.
Nature tests us in complex ways and rewards us with experiences we often do not expect. It punishes us fairly and rewards us by simply by allowing us to pass into places that few, if anyone, has ever seen before. This offer is made everywhere, in far away mountains you’ve never heard of, or nearby ravines, swamps, and cliffs that only plants have explored.