What is the value that we place on life?
I feel that I’ve been pondering this question more and more lately.
In early June I had the great privilege to help with a camp for youth in the Foster Care program. The whole goal was to get them out of the confines of the city and into the mode of just being in nature. A goal that was accompanied by the hope that through their time outside they would come to know themselves better in someway, that they would come to have a regard for nature and through that have a deeper respect for themselves and their own invaluable gift of life.
I think in a small step that goal was met to a degree we weren’t anticipating. Shortly after that week I sped off in a jumbo jet across the continent and landed in NYC. A totally different world – a world apart from what I’ve come to think of as home. My time there was spent with much reflection and appreciation for all the things I’ve seen and felt in my mere 30 years as a human being.
The last evening I was there, there happened to be a shoot-out in the courtyard next door. Someone was killed. In a way we felt like it was normal, like yeah that’s what people do to one-another. But, in a deeper sense of understanding of life I knew that it was a terrible cause of poor human understanding and lack of regard for what we as humans are suppose to be doing.
The next day I once again sped through the sky, ripping the air with wings of steel and eventually landed back in California. On the drive back to Yosemite I came across a little fox that had been hit and killed by a car. I stopped the van and went to move the little creature out of the road. It was still a bit warm, and so tiny and beautiful. I was deeply saddened as I placed it in the tall grass under an oak tree. The contrast between this little being just trying to cross the road and getting killed by a motorist and that of two humans intentionally shooting guns at one-another was bigger than I could handle. Both instances felt like unfortunate circumstances of human ignorance, both felt like disregard for life.
Yesterday John Bachar died. He died whilst free soloing. Something he had come to be famous for, something that has been glorified through the climbing industry thus failing to portray how really serious it is ; a gamble with living. This was a man who was an icon in the climbing world for his rope-less feats – something that placed him in a realm of the untouchable to his adoring fans. But more than that he was a man; a human with a family, with a son, with lives that depended on his. And, so now he has passed from this human life onto other things. He died while free soloing. And I’m sitting here pondering what is the value we place on life.