Here and Nowhere

Eiger & Mönch (October 2014) (c) Sam Rappaz
Eiger & Mönch (October 2014) (c) Sam Rappaz

To the untrained eye ego-climbing and selfless climbing may appear identical. Both kind of climbers place on foot in front of the other. Both breathe in and out at the same time. Both stop when tired. Both go forward when rested. But what a difference! The ego-climber is like an instrument that’s out of adjustment. He puts his foot down an instant too soon or too late. He’s likely to miss a beautiful passage of sunlight through the trees. He goes on when the sloppiness of his step shows he’s tired. He rests at odd times. He looks up the train trying to see what’s ahead even when he knows what’s ahead because he just looked a second before. He goes too fast or too slow for the conditions and when he talks his talk is forever about somewhere else, something else. He’s here but he’s not here. He rejects the here, is unhappy with it, wants to be farther up the trail but when he gets there he will be just as unhappy because it will be “here”. What he’s looking for, what he wants, is all around him, but he doesn’t want that because it is all around him. Every step’s an effort, both physically and spiritually, because he imagines his goal to be external and distant.

– Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Mönch & Jungfraujoch -(October 2014) (c) Sam Rappaz
Mönch & Jungfraujoch -(October 2014) (c) Sam Rappaz
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8 thoughts on “Here and Nowhere”

    1. Well he doesn’t directly say anything but leaves it to us to infer from what he says about ‘ego-climbing’, I suppose. The whole book can be quoted on what it means to achieve without actually forcing achievement.

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