One Fell


  Wife out of town again.  This time ministering post appendectomic daughter.  Interesting that these days doc doesn’t make one big slit, but several smaller ones instead.  Shoves flashlight into one, looks in another, and fishes vestigial organ out with a coat hanger or something through a third.

  Anyway, home alone one night and took a call from a friend I’d not seen in thirty-five years.  While talking about past exploits and future plans he reminded me of the ground breaking 1972 Chouinard Equipment Catalogue the cover of which you see above.

  It was a paradigm shifter for many reasons – not least because of its rich production values.  (Speaking of value, copies sell today for $250!)  More importantly it was an exhortation for conservation of the vertical environment – “clean climbing” as well as the proclamation of a new moral imperative to retain real adventure in the experience of it.

  What though does this have to do with my friend’s and my considerations of next moves?  Well, open the cover and the first words one reads are Einstein’s: “A perfection of means and a confusion of aims seems to be our main problem.”  Said differently, a typical life from zero to sixty.

  Takes that long to take care of business, shake things out a bit, and begin to see through the lens of your own specs, not someone else’s.  To realize as Jung wrote: “The more a man’s life is shaped by the collective norm, the greater is his individual immorality”.

  As the conversation drew to its close with warm wishes and promises to keep in touch I pulled my copy from the shelf and paged through.  I was transported to a place long gone and paths not taken.  Not yet anyway.  I turned to the last page and a lyric courtesy of the Stones: “Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind”. 

  I was electrified.  I dumped out the rest of the wine in my glass (seriously) and took dog outside to look at the stars.  One fell.  Our walk around the block felt like an airborne perambulation.  Had my friend not had me by the leash, I would have floated away.

*In case you don’t know, Chouinard went on to found Patagonia and set the pace for corporate environmental activism as well as outside cool.

**It’s never been lost to me that I was in that place long gone when my now roommate began to take serious interest in me (even though I didn’t use deodorant!).



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