There comes a time in every person’s life when he can’t do what he did before his body and thinking skills began going to pot. Usually, the body goes first, but we don’t realize that our minds are imbedded inside our bodies, and who can think straight with a migraine headache? This article will not address why some people are blessed with extremely sharp minds whereas the bulk of humanity is stuck at a dim-wit level. For instance, when a supposedly normal individual joins an active political body, why does he reject the ethics he once had? And why does President Trump conceal his innate genius characteristics from the American people?
In a previous article, I discussed the merits of continuing doing the things we’ve always done to prevent the aging process from assigning us to retirement in a rocking chair. At an older age, I kept attempting to try doing things that would provide thrills and chills to my life. Helen Keller said, “Life is a daring adventure, or nothing.” So, why not give mountain climbing a shot? I did, and it was like shooting myself in the head. What was I thinking? Don’t think too much about your life, but go ahead and plunge into it with a full head of steam.
After climbing to a 20,000-foot summit two days after my 64th birthday, it was not high enough. Don’t think about it, but go higher. Wasn’t that why we were put on this earth? How high can you go in a rocking chair? If you can stand up, maybe two or three feet?
I decided to climb Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the western hemisphere at nearly 23,000 feet in Argentina. However, the law of aging states that if any and every part of your body can go kaput, it will. Although I was approaching age 72, no big deal. If you don’t think about how old you are, age doesn’t matter, does it?
Our team of 12 climbers plus four guides took off for the summit — slowly over rough terrain, in hot, dusty, windy weather in no-man’s land. It wasn’t that bad, except we each carried over 50 pounds of gear. You can’t sleep or eat on a mountain side without carrying heavy loads of gear. Up and up to the next camp for 12 days to reach the summit, and each step I took, God reduced my oxygen, apparently for my past sins.
At camp four, Wes, our leading guide called me aside; “You’re struggling, aren’t you?” Yes, but I didn’t know it at the time that two of my heart valves had stopped pumping. They were repaired later with open-heart surgery, but that’s another thrilling and chilling adventure.
Wes said, “I’m going to send you down with Laura.” Laura was a highly skilled mountaineer, trained in outdoor survival and as tough as any strong man. There I was, a failure in life with all kinds of thoughts going through my head, but survival was important to me. Laura and I packed up a tent, two sleeping bags, a little stove and enough food to last the four-day descent back down to civilization. When I returned to civilization, I liked it better than before. The stress of trying to live a “normal” life will wear you out.
Going down over steep rough terrain is harder on the legs than going up. It takes energy to brace one’s self, but I had none left. Then we had to ford a waist-deep, raging river. Laura told me that if I began to go under, to release my backpack or it would take me with it. I’d rather go some other way. They’d never find my body in a vast land where no man should tread. Glad I had Laura to lead me beside still waters.
People do foolish things, sometimes risking life and limbs. On my adventures to higher places, I liked to read at nights in a tent using a head lamp. But on our way down, I’d left my books behind. Waiting three days at the little hotel before the bus ride to Mendoza, Argentina, and the flight home where my heart is, I read the Bible in the room. In Genesis 19:17, it says, “Escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.”
There is no escape from eventually being consumed, but what choice do we have? Give me a mountain anytime. Better than a surgeon poking inside my heart.
— Contact Terry Cummins at TLCTLC@AOL.com.