Thursday, March 29, 2007

Reinhold Messner

A while back I commented on someone's blog about a guy who climbed mountains without supplementary oxygen despite the intense danger and loss involved (he lost his toes and his brother on a mountain). Now I can't find that post anywhere, but it is a story that I heard long ago and has stuck with me because of the message. Recently this same guy was featured in National Geographic Magazine and I saw the article and tracked down the original NPR interview that made such a dramatic impression on me.
What was it that was so cool about this story? it is not just a cool adventure story about persistence in the face of danger. It is a story with an intensely spiritual theme about Messner's motivation for climbing. He says in the interview that it is not in the sense of conquering the mountain but the sense of joy in returning from a barren, sterile, hostile place to the normal world. The joy of feeling the first warm air, seeing the first insect and the first green grass. He climbs mountains because it intensifies the joy that he finds when he returns to the normal world.
And that is what we are doing in martial arts - we are not celebrating violence, but by approaching our dangerous, violent, human limits, we are able to more fully live in the real world. I can't express it as well as Messner does in his interview. I highly recommend y'all listen to it.

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