Brother Moon seems to think that I am far too sensible. Apparently, I play it safe. I do the right thing, what is expected of me, what I should do. I strive, unsuccessfully, for perfection; I always want to do the best that I can. Even when I am no good at something, I still have to do the best that I can. I hate making mistakes, I hate half-arsed jobs and I hate not doing as well as I could. This is all true, up to a point, but the older I get, the less perfect I get. It is just so much effort and it takes up too much time and energy.
Now, the question is - does this sensible streak make me boring? Does it mean that I don't take any risks or do exciting things? Does it mean that I am dull, tedious and no fun to be with? I suspect that is what a lot of people think, but I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it is maybe it is the quiet ones that you need to keep an eye on.
Let's take my latest foray into the wilderness that is Beautiful British Columbia. We are rather spoilt in this neck of the woods for spectacular scenery. Vancouver is surrounded by soaring, snow capped peaks that are smothered by ancient groves of giant conifers (well, most have been logged by rugged, square-jawed lumberjacks in plaid shirts and, perhaps, suspendies and a bra, but there are some left). Now, because these mountains are so soaring, they are usually covered in snow until July, at which point it is possible to don your boots, slather yourself up in mosquito repellent, grab your hiking poles and head for the summit. This is exactly what Mr. DBM and I did this week. Everything was going just fine, until we hit snow. First, there were just little patches here and there. Oh well, shouldn't be a problem, it is the middle of July after all. Let's keep going. So, we did. And the slope got steeper and the snow got deeper. Mr. DBM starts to put his sensible hat on and the inevitable conversation starts:
Mr. DBM: Honey, I think perhaps we should stop now.
Me: But I want to get to the top.
Mr. DBM: Yes, I know, but it is getting quite dangerous. If you fall here, it is a long way down.
Me: But I really want to get to the top.
Mr. DBM: Well, perhaps we can try and go a bit further, but if it gets any worse, we will have to turn back.
And off I trot, with a quick hop and a skip, just like a mountain goat. OK, so perhaps more like a sloth with muscle fatigue, but slow and steady gets there in the end. We squirrel (sloth) our way up through some stunted, rooty, twisted and deformed trees, on a steep and slippery path, only to come out on the snow again. This time, it is steeper, with more jagged rocks and dangerous looking holes. We start up our conversation again:
Mr. DBM: OK, we really do need to turn back now.
Me: But we are nearly there - look, just past that ridge, it gets steeper, but it is more exposed and higher up, closer to the sun, so there is less snow.
Mr. DBM (who has a science degree and is not going to fall for that one): We can always come back in a couple of weeks.
Me: No, really, we can do this, look.........
At this point, I start edging out onto the snow chute. I have my hiking poles. I am carefully digging out little ledges in the snow for my feet. I will be fine, don't worry.......
At this point, Mr. DBM gets his stern voice and serious look out and starts the whole shaking of the head routine - I know that I am fighting a losing battle now, but still I soldier on, one tentative, hesitant and potentially last, footstep at a time.
Mr. DBM: How exactly are you going to get back down again?
Me: Well, I thought that I could just slide down, on my bum, braking with my heels - that should work just fine.
Mr. DBM: What about those jagged rocks?
Me: Oh, yes, well.....
Mr. DBM (sensing victory): Perhaps you should turn around and come back now?
Me (trying to sound cool, calm and under control, when in reality I am beginning to realise that snow really is quite slippery stuff and it really is quite a long slide down and that I am not entirely sure how exactly I am going to turn around and head back): OK.
So, there you go, perhaps I am not quite so sensible after all. If you want sensible, you have to look no further than Mr. DBM. If it wasn't for him, I would have continued up the snow chute, made it to the ridge, clambered up to the summit, taken some photos of the spectacular view, slithered, slid, rolled, scrambled and fallen off the mountainside and finally made it back to the car, exhausted, knackered, barely able to walk, but quite chuffed that I had made it. Or, I would still be stuck up on a ledge wishing that my cell phone would work in the mountains, hoping that the bears prefer the taste of salmonberries to me and that Mr. DBM will forgive me for being an idiot, risking life and limb for a scenic outlook, and will call mountain rescue. Or, things could have ended with an altercation between me and some hard, jagged, unforgiving rocks. You just never know. Sometimes, being sensible really is just the right thing to do - thank you Mr. DBM. But next time, I will make it to the top.
Here is Mr. DBM in the snow, with The Lions peeking through the trees in the background. As you can see, we encountered more snow than expected!
Please note: Mr. DBM did give his grudging permission for this photo to be used.
A deer fern in the woods, one frond highlighted by the sun. Even amongst the majestic mountains, there are small jewels of beauty just waiting to be noticed.
Just how sensible am I? How much risk am I prepared to take? We could always look at some of the things that I have done in my life:
- Travelling across the U.S and Australia on my own.
- Hiking the bear and snake-infested backcountry of the U.S on my own - how close is too close when it comes to taking a photo of a bear?
- Diving down to 170ft to see gorgonian corals and cloud sponges.
- Diving with numerous sharks, including great whites and shark feedings, where you can be surrounded my more than 50 sharks at one time.
- Sky diving - static line and freefall.
- Bungy jumping.
- Moving to Vancouver, leaving all my friends and family in England.
Some of the things that I have done have been just plain stupid. Hiking in Yellowstone, alone, up a mountain, covered in snow, as a storm is coming in, without telling anyone where I was going or that I was even going, was pretty dumb. But mostly, I take calculated risks. Sky diving and bungy jumping are not very dangerous. Sure, if something goes wrong, the consequences can be nasty, but the likelihood of something going wrong is very small. Moving to Vancouver was a far more daring and frightening thing to do. So, am I sensible?Well, I did get run over by a horse drawn caravan. How many sensible people can claim that?