Monday, July 19, 2010

Faith is born in the dark

Hello, world:) 
Sorry it’s been a bit of time since I last wrote.  Actually, looking at it now, it’s not been long enough for me to apologize but Friday seems like so long ago to me now.  Lot’s can happen in four days.  But i love writing here.  It beats playing out my opinions in my head on the way to the T, or as I walk the Whole Foods aisles or, - as is the case with my awesome new apartment -  in the mirror.  Yes, I often play situations out to the Me in the mirror.  MJ knew what was up and quite frankly I’m glad he wrote a song about it.  (also, sidebar:  having done this a few times, I’ve noticed that when I decide to make a valid point, it seems I talk with my bottom lip.  Do other people see this?  I wonder.)
Anyway, as I said it’s been a long few days.  My life has been a total challenge recently and I’ve had to make decisions that are incredibly tough to make, which require a lot of Faith in who I am and what I know to be true.  I’ve been through a similar situation in a separate area of my life, almost a year ago, when I left a great job, great city, great people for (what appeared to many as) no apparent reason.  But I knew then as I know now, that you land.  You land.  And you fly again:)  So this is me.  This is Kay Miller’s present life at the present moment.  And please - I’ve had a fantastic few days with incredible humans - it’s just sometimes life hands you an incredibly beautiful kite to fly, but there’s no wind.
Without getting into the meat of it, I’d like to share with you a story.  It’s not really a story, it’s more of an insight.  The other night, I watched “Touching the Void”.  First off, I love documentary movies.  And I LOVE adventures and I’m especially enamored with mountaineering, alpine climbing, etc.  Mostly because it’s something I’ll never ever ever do.  I’ve read John Krakauer’s books, dragged my sister out to the Boulder Theater last October to meet Jimmy Chin and Conrad Anker (see awesome picture below), and basically am completely completely completely spellbound by anything Andes, anything Alps and anything Himalayas.  It’s the drama that pulls me in.  One mistake and you’re life could be left on the side of a mountain.  So romantic.

Which is why, on Friday night, I grabbed a glass of wine, some dinner and sat down to my Netflixed movie, “Touching the Void” - a true story about these two alpinists who, in 1985, set out to accomplish what no other human being had ever accomplished:  to climb the west face of Siula Grand - a 21,000 ft mountain in the Peruvian Andes.  They were just kids; Simon and Joe.  Early 20‘s and basically everyone who tried to climb this one side never lived to tell the tale.  Pretty brutal.  But these boys were full of fitness, and vim and vigor and experience.  The reason this climb is so famous, is because it was almost a total disaster and a near fatal climb for both men.  I mean, the survival story is stuff dreams (nightmares) are made of.  Probably the kind that make Conrad’s heart lurch.  I would love to sit with him over coffee and discuss this book, but I digress...
(Okay, PLEASE DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW SOMETHING IMPORTANT THAT HAPPENS...well, cut to the quote but hide the first two paragraphs with your hand...)  

Anyway, one of them gets seriously injured, the other tries to help but ends up cutting away the rope that ties the two men together in order to save his own life, and his injured partner falls into this crag in the mountainside.  It’s the middle of the night, in sub-zero temps, Joe’s femur has compounded into his kneecap and he’s unable to move his leg.  Here he has survived a 100+ft fall off the face of a cliff on which his buddy had cut his rope.  what.  
Now he faces certain death in the belly of a mountain, in seemingly hopeless conditions.  No one knows where he is; his partner thinks he’s dead, the entrance to this crevice is 80 ft above him and he can’t move in a place that is not meant for the living.  It’s all hopeless.  I mean I threw in the towel for him and also definitely stopped eating.  

And then he says this, “You gotta make decisions, you gotta keep making decisions, even if they’re wrong decisions.  If you don’t make decisions you’re stuffed.  Short of dying on the ledge, my only chance was to lower myself deeper into the crevice.  I didn’t know what I would find down there.  I was just hoping there might be some way out of the labyrinth of ice and snow.  And I really struggled to make that decision, I was so scared of going deeper.  The other option was to just to sit there, blindly hoping that somehow it might get better, and I just knew it wasn’t going to get better.”  
Can you just pause for a hot minute in your running outfit, in your work clothes, on your couch in your home in the sun and THINK about what that meant for this man?  The courage it took to decide to do something, something that could result in freedom, or in a silent fall into complete and utter blackness.  In fact, as he lowered himself down into the darkness, he decided not to tie a knot at the end of the rope, figuring that that would just be the end of it.  What hopelessness and despair!  What terror and desperate desperate aloneness.  I can’t even fathom it. 

But how quickly there is hope.  
Hope that sits so close to despair they’re almost touching.  Perhaps they are.  
But at what risk and at what point do you risk one to gain the other?  
To put faith into something that requires all of you?  

I won’t tell you how it ends up, but I encourage you to read the book or watch the documentary.  It’s amazing how powerful the human spirit is and further; it’s amazing how beautifully chaotic our lives can be at times.  If only we knew our own endings.  But I promise you, they’re there.
I think what resonated the most with me is how much this man was hurting, but how much he overcame.  It’s clear that, at the ripe age of 25, he knew so much; past climbs and training partners had taught him to keep pushing, keep making decisions - one way or the other.  To believe in yourself.  To commit.
I guess I just want you to know that it’s never easy, that life is full of really hard choices, but if we stop making them, we’re stuffed.  And I think it’s way harder to sit passively on a ledge in a crevice in the middle of the mountain, when you could be climbing out and into the sunlight.  To hope.  To believe in something that is not seen, but that could be.  To lower yourself into the canyon, to do something you never thought you could do, to move in a direction you never thought you could go, to know that no matter what, you didn’t just sit down.   Find a way.  That takes courage.  It's faith.  Sometimes you’ve got to just grab your rope, and decide to move.  Because you know what?  You just never know:)



  1. Thanks for posting this Kay. I'm in that sort of spot right now and I really needed to read this. :)

  2. i'm so glad this is for you, too. we can do this together:) whatever it is, i'm praying for ya, girl.