Thursday, March 25, 2010

You can't see the entire world from the top of Everest...

"You can't see the entire world from the top of Everest...
The view from there only reminds you how big the world is
 and how much more there is to see and learn."

- Tenzing Norgay

As someone rather special to me celebrates a birthday this week, I'm reminded of the importance of Tenzing Norgay's words. Tenzing Norgay was, of course, the very fine Nepali-Indian Sherpa mountaineer who stood atop Mt. Everest with Edmond Hillary on the 29th of May, 1953. The words quoted above resonate with humility and wisdom. Of anyone in the mountaineering community at the time, he would have been forgiven for boasting. Not only did he share in the first acknowledged summit of the world's highest mountain, but en route he probably saved the life of his climbing partner, who would become a friend for life, when Hillary plunged through the ice and fell into a deep crevasse.

Climbing Everest guarantees some very serious bragging rights. Heck, just a few of years ago, after an 11 km trail race in which I stood third last, I was so "puffed up" with pride that I was told I was impossible to live with! (Well, give me a break, I was the oldest registered runner!) Anyway, such an accomplishment on Everest could really tempt one to live the cliche, "been there, done that, not much left to do". Not Tenzing Norgay, however, nor Edmond Hillary. They stood at the top of the world's highest mountain and realized how much more grand and majestic and unexplored was the world beyond their vision - and how much more there was to do and to learn in life.

Throughout the years in my vocation, I have had the opportunity to meet some folks, who in so many ways, have arguably  "done it all". Still, they hunger for more adventure, more of life's experiences, more opportunities to grow and learn and discover. In so doing, they know they risk falling into life's "crevasses". They invite disappointment and even failure but they remain undaunted. They don't see advancing years as an excuse to rest on their laurels or their past accomplishments. Each new dawn is seen as an "invitation" and even if the sunrise is accompanied with increasing challenges, they dare to move forward. Their minds are open to new perspectives, new paradigms, and new possibilities. They welcome the opportunity to paddle uncharted "waters" for they know that in so doing, they live on the threshold of continued self-discovery. And they are living, truly living. I've also met a few "stick-in-the-muds". Where the former radiate joy, the latter look grim.

As one very special individual adds another year to her chronological "portfolio", I am thankful that she so often stands at the top of many "summits" and patiently reminds me of the glorious view beyond the ocean of visible peaks - all calling out to be discovered and celebrated and shared. When I occasionally look a little "grim", she quickly nudges me into seeing the "view" for what it truly is! For that, I'm thankful. Happy BD J!


The above image is a much lesser "Everest". It is Ha Ling, rising above Canmore, Alberta. We hiked up its scree slopes a while back. From the top, you can see countless peaks in the Canadian Rockies.  And far beyond the horizon are countless more peaks...all the way to the Pacific ocean. On the fortieth anniversary of his summit of Everest, we listened with deep appreciation to Sir Edmond Hillary when he spoke at our son's school. A great mountaineer, adventurer, humanitarian, and encourager of others, he signed our program, "Ed Hillary". It's framed and forever a reminder of a man of deep humility who, with his dear friend Tenzing, saw a world of new opportunities and possibilities from the highest place on earth. In doing so, both made the world a better place.


  1. This is so true Duncan, one needs an open mind to truly live. As I age I hope to be one of those who seek new possibilities but right now we both know I am an "old stick in the mud" type. haha
    This is a good reminder!
    Thanks for sharing

  2. "Old stick in the mud" type? No way. You're a runner!

  3. Life is truly an adventure, a journey along the way. All lessons in learning helping us to the next step - whatever, wherever and whenever that may be...always accepting what has happened in the past - if was it changed, we wouldn't be exactly where we are at this moment. Keep on going.....
    - Sheila

  4. Hi S,

    Good point. That's why it's OK to live life like a sailboat - tacking, in order to take best advantage of the wind in our sails. I suppose all the "back and forth" may look to some on shore like the course is unclear - fact is, it's very clear, and probably pretty well thought out. Since the wind is always a little unpredictable, it's also an adventure.