Although I should work on my Bachelor Thesis, last weekend I found myself curled up on the couch with the book “Alone in the Wall” from Alex Honnold and David Roberts. At least, it is about climbing and therefore might pass as research. 😉
However, for me it is one inspirational book. I am generally very into the stories of climbers and mountaineers because of their life style and attitude. And their lack of fear. I mean, have you ever watched a video of Alex’ free solos??! If not, please do. There are several videos on Youtube as well as some great movies with and about him. I am sure you are going to feel quite uncomfortable next to feeling awe and disbelief.
Every time I am watching a climb of Alex I get sweaty hands and can’t sit still because of fear he might fall. Honestly, climbing with no rope? Nothing, except climbing shoes and a chalk bag. The image alone of hanging 1000 feet above the ground without any rope makes me shudder.
Why would anybody do this? Risking his/her life just for the fun of it?
The thing is, Alex isn’t afraid. There is no fear, only the focus on his body and the act of climbing. He moves as elegant and secure as a cat, clinging to the big walls of Yosemite National Park like a lizard.
At this point, I should mention Alex’s nickname: Alex “No Big Deal” Honnold. Because for him, free soloing El Capitan in 3 hours and 56 minutes is No Big Deal. This was in June 2017.
In an Interview by National Geographic Adventure in 2012 Alex was asked: “If you don’t believe in God or an after-life, doesn’t that make this life all the more precious?”. He came up with the – in my opinion – best metaphor of life: “I suppose so, but just because something is precious doesn’t mean you have to baby it. Just like suburbanites who have a shiny new SUV that they are afraid to dent. What’s the point in having an amazing vehicle if you’re afraid to drive it? I’m trying to take my vehicle to new and interesting places. And I try my very best not to crash, but at least I take it out.” (Alone in the Wall, 2016, P. 38-39)
I admire people like Alex for their attitude and their way of life. And I admit I envy them because they are doing what they love for a living. Not that money has a great meaning for them, but they need at least some of it. Most of them seem to live a very modest life. Until today, Alex still lives in his old van. This way he can drive wherever and whenever he wants to.
For me, Alex and his climbing mates are very inspirational people. They are reminding me that we need not much to be happy. Although several of the climbers earn good money, they don’t need the big money and a save job to be happy.
As long as we know what makes us happy (and what doesn’t) and as long as we follow this path we will be happy and content people. Sounds easy, but it’s not. If you are used to having stuff and money you might not be able to leave that for a life without. But I think we should remind ourselves of the things that really matters. And that’s not a big new SUV.