Ben and Tarka have just walked 900 miles to the South Pole. Now, they walk back.
But let’s back up a bit. It all started when friends Koral and Suzanne Ilgun took a recent trip to Antarctica, sharing photos like this:
Later, Koral mentioned a blog he’d been following by 2 British adventurers who are walking 1800 miles in Antarctica, unsupported, from the coast to the South Pole and back.
I’ve been following their blog since. As you might imagine, it’s a lot of effort (not my following their blog; I mean them hiking the 1800 miles)—strenuous skiing against fierce cold and strong headwinds, each towing a very heavy supply sled, often in whiteout conditions, day after slogging day, for 2 months now, with 2 more to go.
What do they think about? This was my favorite comment:
“I’ve read of explorers from Cherry-Garrard to Fiennes having mantras they’d repeat to themselves when the going got tough. I can’t say I’ve got one myself, but my favourite recourse when my mind starts fretting about how tough this journey is proving is to tell myself to “Pipe down and crack on”. It works a treat, especially in what I imagine to be a Yorkshire accent.”
Pipe down and crack on. In other words, don’t give in to whining or negative thinking, which stalls the energy flow. Just get on with it, move forward, and do what needs to be done. A positive, cheerful attitude helps!
Another friend mentioned recently how he enjoyed reading accounts from early pioneers. He noticed that they didn’t mention the weather that much. He didn’t think it was necessarily that they were heartier than we are — just more accepting of conditions they had no control over. “When you think about it, it’s kind of silly to complain about the weather, isn’t it?” Well, yes!
It made me realize how equally silly it is to complain about ANY conditions we face that we have no control over. Just adjust, do what needs to be done, and remind the mind (good-humoredly) to pipe down and crack on.
In our own, tiny, microcosmic way, my wife Manisha and I have both been treading on together into new territory, for us: seeing how we can help promote Ananda Oregon’s various entities here, for example. At first, I got caught up in a bit of anxiety, not being sure exactly how to do that! Good-humored and willing — but not moving forward much.
Meanwhile, Manisha stepped right in and plowed forward, with lots of really creative ideas. Eventually I got caught up in her creativity flow, and once I got moving, it was fun (whew!). Good teamwork, and some good results. :-)
On the subject of weather, that’s been consistent here at Laurelwood, Oregon: 33 degrees and foggy. Couple of weeks ago, though, there was an unusually cold spell for Oregon. One morning I hopped in my car, and the temperature gauge said “18”. “Wow!” I thought, “I’ve never seen that before!” Of course, it’s relative… a friend here who lived in Alaska for 7 years, said that it was minus 70 degrees one day. “Was that with wind chill?” “Nope, that was the still air temperature. It was amazing.”
How silly it is to worry, or complain, about the weather. Just accept, add some more layers — and enjoy how amazing it all is.
This reminds me of a story I heard long ago, before coming to Ananda:
A Place That is Neither Hot Nor Cold
In the ninth century there was in Tang China a Zen master called Dongshan Liangjie. Once a monk in training asked Great Master Dongshan, “When heat and cold come, how can I avoid them?”
Dongshan said, “Why don’t you go where it’s neither hot nor cold?”
“What is this place of no heat or cold?”
Dongshan replied, “When it’s hot, become one with the heat; when it’s cold, become one with the cold. That is the place of no heat or cold.”
I’ve actually found that useful a lot since. So, it’s hot? Like, you’re driving in 100 degree humid weather and there’s no air conditioning? Well, you can either 1) wish it were otherwise, worry, and complain (tense); or, 2) accept what is, adapt, and enjoy the amazing show (relax).
In other words, get into it.
And after all… whose show is it, anyway?
I’ve heard it said that fear is a form of athiesm.
Fear, worry, doubt… those habits presuppose that things are going wrong, we’re in charge, and we have to fix it all. That can be pretty overwhelming!
But, hmm… perhaps this is God’s show, and things are unfolding exactly as they are meant to. What would it mean if everything in front of us was a personal gift from God? And it was EXACTLY what we wished for (in our souls, at least), and were meant to have, for our own highest happiness?
Gratitude, receptivity, good humor — these can take us far. Ahhh. Breathe, relax.
In fact, it’s fun to challenge God to come up with really good solutions. “Wow, Divine Mother, how in the world are we going to resolve THIS one?” She’s a brilliant scriptwriter, and ALWAYS comes up with great, and often unexpected, storylines. Like a good Harry Potter read. Very satisfying.
All our love!
Dambara & Manisha