In the fall of 2017, I found myself sitting at a tourism conference in Norfolk, Virginia. The day’s keynote speaker was Mr. Sean Burch, an extreme adventurer and explorer, who holds eight world records spanning six countries and five continents. He has partnered with a variety of organizations, such as The World Wildlife Fund, Napal Trust, Love Hope Strength Foundation, ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation, and many more, to raise money and awareness for their causes, (Visit his website at www.seanburch.com for more about this interesting fella.)
By what Sean said that day, there was a time where he lived inside the box. You know, that box society has created over the years telling people how they’re “supposed” to live? Sean got tired of that box and those influencing him to stay in it, so he decided to break out and set off for adventure.
During his speech, he asked who in the room of hundreds of tourism representatives (myself included) would want to summit Mount Everest. Thinking I had the desire to experience “as much as possible in my life,” I, along with a few other adventurous (or stupid) souls, raised my hand. “Of course, I’d want to hike Mount Everest! That’s an amazing thing to accomplish in life! Sounds like the perfect Bucket List item!”
Looking at the few hands raised in the room, Sean Burch put his hands on his hips and started nodding his head as a big smile stretched across his face. Me and the few other brave individuals in the room, who had pushed their hand into the air, had impressed him. Or so we thought… As quickly as it came, that smile turned upside down and his hands fell off his hips. “You all are nuts,” he responded. Confused and a little hurt, my comrades and I slowly lowered our hands. “But he did it,” I thought. “Why wouldn’t he want us to do it??”
“It was terrible,” he continued. “My face was always frozen, the wind was blowing, it was so cold, I got frost bite on my feet…. You don’t know frost bite until it hits you on Everest!” he said.
“Good grief,” I thought. “He’s right – why the heck would I want to hike Everest???!! The winters in my home of Highland County make me depressed because they’re cold and dismal. I like warmth and sunshine. I would be in complete misery trying to summit Everest!”
“So why did Sean want to do it?” I thought. As time went on, I realized it didn’t matter why Sean wanted to do it. The fact was, I DIDN’T!
Several weeks later, I was looking at a book my mother gave me for Christmas – “The Bucket List: 1000 Adventures Big and Small.” It was in the middle of winter in Highland County. I was currently looking through the section about the Northern Hemisphere. Most of the locations were frozen, and with the winter wind whipping past my house, the last thing I wanted to do was look at a picture of the Swiss Alps. I turned the page, and there it was – “Bucket List Item #578: Hike to Everest Base Camp.” The picture didn’t look so bad, but then I remembered the picture Sean Burch flashed on the screen during his speech – an image of his face with a frozen, snot-covered mustache, red frozen cheeks, blanked by frozen mountains, watery frozen eyes from the wind…. Everything frozen… Ugh…. I shuttered, turned the page quickly, and came to the conclusion I started back in November – If I’m traveling, I’d rather go to Cancun than Everest! Hats off to the thrill seekers who want to hike Everest. I guess Everest needs people to hike it, but while they’re fulfilling their noble duty of freezing their faces off, I’ll be sitting on a beach in the Galapagos Islands soaking in the sun. After all, just like Everest needs people to hike it, Galapagos beaches need people to sit on them, right? I wouldn’t want those beaches to feel unneeded, now, would I?
Moral of the story: Just because someone else does something, doesn’t mean you have to. Just because someone else lives in one manner, doesn’t make it right for you. If someone judges you (good or bad) for what you’re doing, it doesn’t mean their opinion should justify how you think of yourself or what you know is right for you. You do yours. Let everyone else do theirs.
In closing, if you need me, I WON’T be on Mount Everest!!