Reaching for new heights

When I was 16 I was going to go on a botanical research expedition to Iceland. I had to raise money to cover the costs. I chose to climb the three highest peaks in the countries closest to me.

I hitchhiked the whole way. And I climbed the mountains. I slept in a small tent. I raised the money.

In moments of great athleticism like that you find there is a great benefit to the goal. And as one matures the goals one sets shift and turn.

One of the quotes that has always stayed with me is this one by the French writer and mountaineers Rene Daumal:

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”

As a natural scientist, a quality of perspective that was nurtured very deeply in me as a child, there are stages of depth of understanding.

As I traveled from one peak to the next, I thought of my destination: the lava deserts around Vatnajokull glacier in Iceland.

Each peak, summiting each, pulled out more perseverance in me. The journey is very similar, in spirit, to the journeys that fundamental physicists take to clarify the nature of nature. The more your perseverance grows, the more your clarity is amplified. But the avenues of perseverance must tend toward the direction of certainty, not conjecture. There is only way to do that: you must become an ardent student of natural laws.

© Copyright 2021 Nathan Curry

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *