There are times when we start to feel more so than others times that we need to exhibit courage to help make the world a better place. But this can come at a huge cost to the self. It’s important to remember that things are rarely a sprint, and always a marathon. I came across this interesting article that expresses a philosophy on how to sustain courage.
Sisu is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain that courage. It is a word that cannot be fully translated. It defines the Finnish people and their character. It stands for the philosophy that what must be done will be done, regardless of cost.
Sisu is an inherent characteristic of the Finnish people. You might call it backbone, spunk, stamina, guts, or drive and perseverance. It is a measure of integrity that surpasses the hardship and sees through to the end.
At some point in our lives, we all go through some existential questions. It’s when we feel confused about what we are doing with our lives. Or we wrestle with right vs wrong.
The Bhagavad Gita is my favorite book. For me, it contains timeless knowledge presented in an easy way. Some say it probably was a stand-alone book of wisdom on its own. However, knowledge is easier to understand in conversational format. So an entire epic, called Mahabharata, was written to set the stage for this knowledge. And then just one chapter within that huge book is the Bhagavad Gita.
It’s a textual book, thousands of years old. Over the years there are a lot of derivative works on it. I came across this short 10 min version in storybook format, which makes it quite accessible. I have linked to that video above.
I grew up in India drinking Nescafé and was very satisfied with it. Then I moved to Seattle and discovered “real” coffee and now I can’t stand Nescafé 🙂 The joy I feel today with my aeropress coffee is probably quantifiably the same joy I felt with Nescafé when I didn’t know of the aeropress. Am I better off or worse off with this shift in my perception and change in my expectation?
Standing just below the summit of Mt Hood in Oregon, we are looking up at the climbers making the final approach. This is one of my favorite pictures. This is a picture of me not summitting Mt. Hood in Oregon.
We had been training for the whole season. Mt Hood is an excellent training hike for other higher, glaciated climbs in the area. We drove up from Seattle and arrived at the trail-head at 10pm. Then we slept in the car. We woke up at 2am. It was very very windy and quite cold. We started going up at about 3am. Alpine start. My body was cold. I was very exhausted and sleepy. And every part of my being told me to get back in the car, turn on the heat and sleep till sunrise. But the right thing is often larger than us.
So ice axe in hand, crampons on our shoes, we commenced climbing on the icy incline. It was steep. A very perfect mountain in many ways. If I was asked to draw a mountain when I was 3, this is what I would have drawn. Straight inclined edges. Ending with a nice tip on the top.
At 5:30am we paused for a bit. The light was beginning to break over the horizon. It was beautiful. Surreal.
We continued climbing, and we finally reached this spot. 4,400ft / 1,300m of climbing on full deep snow.
This was just below the bergschrund. It was dangerous to continue. It was too icy. And too busy. Too many people. One slip by you or someone else and you could go tumbling down the gully.
To continue we’d have to rope up. We didn’t have time. We had to get back down in time to meet some friends for brunch at noon in Portland. And we had absolutely no cellular network. So we couldn’t get in touch and let them know we would be late. So we decided to turn around.
We had failed at our original goal of summitting. But we got the gift of extra time to enjoy this spot. It was awesome. You could smell the sulphur mixed with the icy alpine air. It’s an active volcano. And that’s when I took this photograph using my 70-200mm lens.
Coming back down was fun. And we made it to brunch on time. We were exhausted. And had built up an appetite. And the food tasted delicious.
We sometimes focus so much on the end goal, we forget to notice all the gifts we receive along the way. Almost never is a failure a dead-end. It always opens an opportunity for something else. If we can adapt, adjust our goals, then we may end up turning failures into cherished successes.
I am glad I didn’t summit Mt Hood that day. I was able to shoot one of my favorite pictures as a result. The mountain still stands. And I’m still alive.
Having a positive outlook is the most important predictor of resilience. This is something I always notice, either consciously or sub-consciously about people that I meet. Being optimistic is a choice that is often entirely within our control. And it demonstrates the work one has done to confront one’s own self, and the ability to act on a longer term, holistic view of things.
“Pi says, “You might think I lost all hope at that point. I did. And as a result I perked up and felt much better.”
“Pi’s resilience is incredible once you realize what happens on board the lifeboat and how Pi copes with the tragedy that he witnesses and endures. There’s more to the story than the boy and the tiger. Though what really happened is terrible, Pi chooses to tell a different story. His story parallels what really happened, but is beautiful not bleak, transcendent not nihilistic.”