The Courage To Be Different

Wine Club was as messy on Saturday as a girlfriend predicted. What’s a girl to do when faced with the challenge of an esky overflowing with the best Chardonnays?


Such shockingly poor self-discipline determined that Sunday would be a write-off, a day for recovery, when I could lament my poor choices, suffering liver and middle-aged intolerance to just about anything fun. mountain-climbing-802099_1280


Fortunately, around midday I felt vaguely human and managed to drag my sorry ass to the couch, and the old man and I managed somehow to compromise on a movie called ‘Meru’. To be honest, I’d planned to doze my way through the movie because in general, films about climbing, mountains and being cold all the time are not exactly my idea of fun, but it was better than the alternative of some fantasy nonsense with dragons.


But the documentary turned out to be a real eye-opener and a wonderful lesson in parenting.


It’s about three climbers who attempt to reach the summit of Meru – a very big mountain… located somewhere near India. ‘Meru’ is a story of courage, commitment, friendship and trust, with the inevitable dose of madness that goes hand in hand with any film about mountaineering. The photography and filming of the team of three as they dangle from dodgy looking ropes, sleep in tents suspended from the side of a mountain some 20,000ft in the sky and fight their inner demons is breath-taking, even from my position of safety, prostrate on the sofa with a bag of Pods for company and an achievement level of zero.


And it made me think about how obsessed our culture has become with celebrating the success of brain-poor celebrities for their looks and sex tapes, rather than the true achievers and heroes that should rightfully be the role models to our children. 


It was the personal stories of triumph that made this film. One of the team, Jimmy Chin, a Chinese film maker/mountaineer/extreme skier/superman talked about his lifelong passion for climbing and the strength he required to go against his parents dream, and effectively drop out of society to become a climbing bum, before he had any success with which to appease them. This big man was tearful as he told the camera how he had refused to push himself to his absolute craziest limit of risking death for glory until his mother passed away, because he had promised her he wouldn’t die on a mountain.


Jimmy now gets published on the front pages of the best climbing and photography glossies such as the National Geographic.


And it made me think about Kurt who (holds breath) is finally turning a corner. And I know that we may be in another ‘one step forward phase’ and soon we’ll be three steps back again, but I have to remain hopeful. Who knows what has finally incited this positive change, but I’ll take it for whatever it is. Perhaps it’s because some maturity has kicked in, or perhaps we have a better understanding of his complicated persona and needs and have allowed him the time he needs to breathe and evolve at his own pace, rather than the expectation set by society.


Jimmy’s achievements prove that no-one deserves to be written off at eighteen, like society has a tendency to do when kids stumble at the first major hurdle of mainstream education or don’t follow a conventional path. My proudest personal achievements in life have come about since my thirties and as I write this post, a print-out of Part 1 of my manuscript is taunting me from the coffee table, questioning if I have the courage to take it the whole way.


Jimmy had that courage and Kurt will find his too, in his own time.



9 thoughts on “The Courage To Be Different

  1. “with the inevitable dose of madness that goes hand in hand with any film about mountaineering.” Laughed strenuously at this. I love mountaineering movies. I have a fixation with them. My son recently visited me, acted like a complete shit and later told me he became lost for four and a half hours on the way home and I thought, good. He needs to realise life can be hard and a puzzle and he’s 21 now and has to start figuring it out for himself. We need to buckle ourselves and fling them from the nest. We survived and they will too. x


  2. “…but it was better than the alternative of some fantasy nonsense with dragons.” Made me laugh. Sounds like you have the same movie dilemma in your house as I do mine. 🙂


  3. I have a strong identity with your posts. My daughter, much like Kurt, visited us for 8 days for her 21 birthday. My strong resolve to get along and not get short tempered was short lived. Today my relationship with my spouse took the familiar couples nosedive. Some little thing said wrong threw a beautiful day into hours of a relationship discussion. It’s just life.
    Older than you, lesbian from Arizonz via 30 years in NYC. Same issues.


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