Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Falling to Fly

Yesterday morning I found this video on Youtube and was blown away.

Highlining without a parachute or security line? Seriously? I literally stared in complete disbelief and then watched it about 5 more times. And this is merely one of Dean Potter 's unbelievable undertakings. 

Ummm....no, I won't be taking up highlining, but it did haunt me all morning. It got me thinking about risk. Potter said in an interview, "You have to fall to fly." Falling, (or more accurately, jumping) off the North Face of the Eiger, for example, allows him to live his dream of flying. As I watched his squirrel-suited freefall over and over again, I fully understood the exhilaration and freedom. I crave it all the time. My adrenaline “fix” involves fast bikes, summits and wilderness adventures, but the concept is the same.

I find more awareness, strength, confidence and clarity in my world when I am surrounded by epic peaks or have miles of singletrack ahead of me. I feel more in tune with myself, I push my limits and my consciousness grows. I am fully reliant on myself to survive and I begin to intelligently grapple with the meaning of my humanity as my mind sorts through all the garbage of human social structure.

After all, above 11K’ there is no one thinking for me, no media to try and tell me what I should be doing, wearing or believing.

Being a person who loves to know what things mean beyond their outward appearance involves risk. The risk of “rocking the boat” a bit, the risk of questioning things, the risk of being a bit different and the confidence to be comfortable with it. I love discovering the inner beauty of people and cherish close relationships, but I am definitely a bit of a loner. I am intense and powerful in pursuing things that have meaning to me and am really laid back and mellow when it comes to the trivial aspects of life such as where to go to dinner, what to wear, being the center of attention…blah, blah, blah.

I wrote a paper for a class at CU-Boulder that relates well here. It’s an analysis of the movie The Matrix and the question of the blue pill versus the red pill. I jumped all over it, because it was a topic I have sorted through many times on my snowshoes in the middle of nowhere. I definitely won’t make you snooze through all of it, but do want to throw some of on here. It will either give you a good laugh, further support my self-alleged oddity or make you ask yourself the same question. If you haven’t seen the movie and need the plot synopsis:

I will start with probably my favorite line. This is a perfect assertion that growth (and the risk involved) will either scare the hell out of a person or hurt for awhile:

Neo: “Why do my eyes hurt?”
Morpheus: “You have never used them before.”

So now to the red pill/blue pill question and my ramblings from the aforementioned paper:

“Taking the red pill shows one is making the decision to ask questions, for example, about power and what it is, where it exists and how we can identify it. Probing for answers on societal issues that are sometimes not clearly understood or reconciled and searching for a purpose to our existence gives us a pathway to begin to understand our consciousness. As Trinity tells Neo, “The Matrix cannot tell you who you are” (The Matrix).

The blue pill represents believing what we are told, believing what we think we know and just accepting our existence. To be a part of the status quo is easy and comfortable with in the normal social structure. Those who question the system are sometimes viewed as different and face social pressure and exclusion. In this framework of red pill/blue pill choice, the critical questioning and comparing of power and control expressed by thinkers such as Foucault and Weber and the comparison of neocolonialism would not take place if one were to take the blue pill.”

Don’t get too lost in the neocolonialism babble…focus on the decision of which pill to take and bear with me here. This is my answer:

“So, the question remains: Which pill to take? With a moment’s hesitation, I would reach for the red pill and take it. Why the moment’s hesitation? Most certainly not because I am content with being told what to believe and feel or what is real and what is acceptable, but because making the choice to jump down the rabbit-hole involves a high level of risk. The obvious risk of not finding or not understanding or even further, not liking what is discovered, although seemingly enormous is not as devastating as the possibility of losing my friends and family as a result of my decision to question and critically assess to figure out what it all means.

My motivation for meaning in life is fervent, however and I would, as mentioned, take the red pill. Someone could argue that taking the blue pill could also be a way to discover meaning and truth because maybe the truth is, in fact, acceptance and a lack of questioning. Who really knows? I do know that personally, I am innately inclined to question and investigate. I would contend that most people are this way, but modern convenience, media and a general lethargy to think and reason things out contributes to the tendency to just habitually accept.

I find myself, true to humanity, susceptible to these things, but I find that “the splinter…in your mind, driving you mad” (The Matrix)—defined for me as that burning desire to know what things mean beyond their outward appearance—takes a stronger hold. I detest being told that I must operate or think within the boundaries of the box. True awareness comes from pushing the limits, redefining the context of the question and actively seeking new perspectives for old issues. The human mind contains limitless attributes that have the potential to expand our capabilities of searching for what we all desire to know—what does it mean to be human? What is my purpose? Am I conscious and what does that mean? The possibility to find the answers to these questions far outweighs the risks."

Open your eyes for the first time and experience the pain of growth.

Take the red pill.

I dare you.

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