Mountains, marathons and the pursuit of happiness

I have once again visited one of the most important places on Earth for me, the small hotel Dalseter high up in the norwegians mountains, the place where I learned to ski (age 2), hike (age 4) and swim (age 5) and where I throughout my childhood found salvation in the mountains, in the vast landscapes and the scents of free Nature and summer flowers, where the whistling of the wind and the squirling of the water falls in the valleys ignited the deeper thoughts on the matters of life and death and the pursuit of happiness.

When I watch my own kids now and my fellow contemporaries I realize that I was given a special gift that not many receive, a gift well coined by the author Hermann Hesse: “Happiness is a talent not an object !”.

The mountains help us understand our minute frame in Time. But few people can handle the perception of their own life set in the context to the geological timeframe – against which we become utterly unimportant and so absurdly small. However, if you have buried your entire pack of ancestors and most other important figures from the childhood, you realize that geology stands and mankind falls. You realize that it is really unimportant if you believe in God A or B, if your are rich or poor, if your fellows think well of you or not, actually, all our “conventional must-do’s” become ridiculeous when measured against the timeframe of the mountains and the infite span of Time. You realize that our “realities” are merely interpretations, subject to change and indeed products of the randomness of context for our existence. I realized all this very early in life – in the Norwegian mountains. I guess this is part of why they are so special to me.

Now, Im trying to pass the wisdom to my kids but I realize that it can’t be. Instead, I realize my uniqueness and complete separation from most others. Of most of my friends many will first even understand this in 20-30 years to come, if ever. You should all take delight in not knowing !

I am forced to the opposite and live a life in complete confrontation to truthness, integrity and persuit of personal happiness, all the things the mountains encourage and demand. And no other “normal tasks” in our “normal” everyday world fits this better than… marathon running. In this manner it all adds up nicely: psychologically I return to the mountains in each race – if just for a moment – and to the embedded wisdom and consequence. And in contrast to the deep thinking alone on the mountain sides, I find so many wonderful friends in the running, people with the same passion and the same lust for endurance and curiosity for limit testing. Conceptwise, the marathons become the mountains and here we also fall prey to something bigger than ourselves. Ultimately the marathon timeframe will eat us all in due course.

So both in the mountains and in the marathon pursuit we are left with the same task: to excel in our Time, to create our own happiness and to maintain our important relations – fragile as they are. The Nature will clear out the rest and both the mountains and the marathons will outlast us. And just as the mountains possess a cruel consequence in bad weather and the most beauty of moments in sunshine, just so do the marathons, symbolically. We marathoneers strive to enjoy those special days of sunshine and to endure through the rainy times. We mountaineers anticipate lurking dangers and the shifts of weather – and act accordingly in order to survive.  Remember, the mountains keep no memory of their victims – and our place in History is very soon forgotten, our existence, our careers, our loveaffairs, our families. The mountains stay put, the marathons stay put. We humans do not. We do not !

We only borrow a piece in Time – we have to use it well.