Sunday, April 14, 2013

Life at the Top



Among the many things I won't accomplish in this lifetime, scaling Mount Everest is one of them. Which makes me sad, but is probably for the best. Reaching the Everest summit would mean death to my sparkling cocktail chatter. Never again could I exit a conversation, any conversation, without dropping, "That reminds me of a funny little story about base camp," or "As my Sherpa always said..."

Bragging seems to be a cultural practice; some countries excel at it -- America being one of them -- while others achieve greatness, quietly. In our family, we kids, the Americans, constructed shrines for our third-place spelling medals, whereas Dad, a Norwegian, and accomplished in so many ways, hid his commemorations in a box in the attic, which we found only after he died.

Sir Edmund Hillary, in spite of the dashing name, was a most self-effacing man; so self-effacing that when he and Norgay reached the top of Everest, he took Norgay's picture, but would not let Norgay take his.

I find it almost inconceivable that someone could do something so magnificent as hike Everest and then not crow about it. Though overt crowing is frowned upon in any culture, the effect can be mitigated with the proper preface: "I'm deeply humbled to announce that, in the fabulous department, others find I am not wanting."

Anyway, I've officially crossed Everest off my to-do list. I'll never have the two basic requirements at the same time: Money and fitness. Everest is really expensive -- sad fact is, I'm only fit when unemployed.

Guess I'll have to be satisfied with racing out-of-shape high school boys up the Echo Mountain Trail. And that does kind of work for me. Because, and I'm most humbled to tell you this, I always beat them to the top.

36 comments:

  1. I can't believe the stuff I found out after my grandfather died... Had no idea the accomplishments he had.. No one ever mentioned the thesis he and another student did at Notre Dame.. and I am the lucky one to have it! My grandparents had a lot of history they kept in journals... Great collection of Notre Dame vintage post cards... who woulda thunk?
    Maybe your Dad didn't feel he needed to talk about his accomplishments, just accomplishing them may of been enough for him?
    I have found that the older generation didn't boast the way the current ones do...
    Good post, Karin... you stirred up some memories..

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  2. Doonesbury did a thing on the "humblebrag" and introduced me to the term. You, my dear, always let your writing speak for itself.
    :)

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  3. I'm still finding out things about my father. My mother was much more of a self-promoter.

    I see and feel the need for the occasional "humblebrag" (thank you, Desiree). I have a theory that it's becoming more prevalent because in our current economy so many of us are promoting our own businesses.

    I have a theory about everything. Just ask me.

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  4. It is a good post, Karin. Astounding what is found tucked away in attics or basements. My father had kept a rock collection and map of Panama from when he lived there for 2 years as a boy. And in the attic, I came across several pencil sketches my mother had done, along with an entry form for an art contest.

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  5. My dad had a gift for illustration, particularly when working as a trap watcher along the Canadian coast. If my brother will send, I will share.

    And now I want to know the Panama story from Ms M.

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  6. For me it was Mount Whitney and a tattoo. I can still get the tattoo though.

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  7. Can't say that I've ever even considered the idea of climbing Mt. Everest...or Mt. Whitney here in our Sierras!!! I know people who have done both...more power to them...I'll just go sit at base camp with a latte and croissant and cheer you on!!!

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  8. We'll take what wins we can, right? Those high school boys are doubtless chagrined.

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  9. Perhaps we could be starchy, yet humble, members of the People Who Have Never Climbed Everest (or Any Other Mountain For That Matter) Club. I am, ashamedly, never fit even when I'm unemployed. It's a sad fact I've come to accept. I really should print up t.shirts that shout "I Am Not My Waistline."

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  10. Choose our battles, right guys? I like to win, so mine just happen to be with fat teenagers.

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  11. Sometimes the things which distinguish us would be the last things we'd expect, because we ourselves disregard them.

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  12. "As my Sherpa always said..." what a jewel of a phrase. Shame you won't be able to use it. Ah, well, perhaps you'll find a future time and place where you can use the phrase.

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  13. Regarding those high-school boys, I would be thrilled if, at any time, I was not the last one. If I were to come in 3rd place, and find there were only four in the field, I would rejoice and bragify myself all over town!

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  14. When I was about 11 I entered a playwriting contest. I was thrilled when I found out I had come in seventh, a little less thrilled when I found out there were only seven entries.

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  15. Let's all meet at base camp and discuss, shall we?

    As for awards, Vandy and I were in a show a few years ago. There were ribbons for 1st through 5th place, and five horses in the competition. V &I ribboned, I'm proud to say, but it was touch and go for awhile.

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  16. I was really rooting for you. I think you should put it back on the list.

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  17. I think you should try it if for no other reason than to tell us what a sherpa always says.

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  19. I would love to see your Dad's illustration!

    I removed Everest off my to-do list too. Lol!

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  20. And when you beat them to the top, I hope you turn around and stick your tongue out with a "Nanny nanny boo boo!"
    V

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  21. This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me.
    Appreciate it!

    Here is my site ... Kindergeburtstag Feiern In Mannheim / Heidelberg - SEA LIFE

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  22. OK...I am officially jealous! Not only are you fit enough to beat teenagers scaling tall mountains, but then you go and get invited to be a part of the National Bathroom Remodel Month...now...you're relevant and helping folks in Kindergeburtstag/Feiem in Mannheim /
    Heidleberg!!! You're AWESOME!!!

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  23. And in addition to life at the top, you are, how do you say it, relevant! Good work, Karin!

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  24. Don't hate me because I'm beautiful. And I'm humbled to say, in the relevant department, Kindergeburtstag/Feiem in Mannheim does not find me wanting.

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  25. My inner sherpa read "Into Thin Air" and that cured her of ever thinking that climbing Mt Everest would be a glamorous, life-affirming endeavor. Ick. Ick. Ick.

    KB, stick to the Echo Mountain Trail with all those sweaty boys who no doubt find themselves in total awe of your Altadena Hikerness.

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  26. Mt.Everest was never on my list of things to do---in fact, no mountain climbing has ever interested me...I'm not sure why, except it all seemed so very dangerous....

    I love that you found these treasures of your fathers, hidden away in the attic. To learn something as big as that after he passed on, has to be quite amazing...!

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  27. Katahdin here in Maine was worth my 5 scales to the tip. The top is fine, but the journey's the thing.

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  28. Excellent humor, even by your high standards.

    A few years ago I played with this idea: what would I do today, or this moment, if I were going to tell NO ONE that I did it? I haven't fared well on that test, but I still like its central idea.

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  29. Love all the comments. Confession - nothing with the word Mt. preceding it need worry about my climbing and leaving another set of footprints on it. I like walking and love dancing. I will be more than willing to talk with The Priestess and bake a goody for you to enjoy after your hike.

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  30. Seems everyone wants to hang out at base camp. More oxygen for me.

    Banjo, by that do you mean -- would we undertake some brave and magnificent endeavor if we could never ever tell anyone of our bravery and magnificence? That's a good one. I'll have to think about it...

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  31. "...sad fact is, I'm only fit when unemployed."

    Same here. And I've been employed for a long, long time.

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  32. I hiked Mt Whitney, but only because I had a Sherpa. No kidding. A burly Bosnian who was my boyfriend at the time. Hell yeah I took a picture at the top. And how do I feel about it now? Never again.

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