It’s been a while since I posted a blog. The loss of my Father has put many of life’s (so called) priorities into stark perspective. Caring for my Mother takes up much of my time, but with family support I still get out into the hills. I reflect more, stare more, say less and await the grieving to come. I’m a rather stoic old Englishman, with far too much stiff upper lip and not enough heart to easily let go – for now anyway. Real life has put the virtual world in its place, but it sometimes still intrudes…
A few weeks ago I was asked to photograph some walkers and cyclists near Mam Tor in The Peak District. When I enquired about the best place to meet, the reply came ‘Do you know the gate where everyone takes pictures for Instagram..?’ Such is the power of the Internet. No more do we need descriptions based on distance, bearing or time. Just look for the worn piece of ground. Society has made a choice. A choice to been seen, not only physically, but also digitally and to shout about it. This seasons images of climbers queueing close to the summit of Everest shocked the world, but should we be surprised..? Should a world possessed in ‘look at me’ act any differently..? I wonder if Balmat and Paccard would understand the modern need for permits to climb Mt Blanc..? It’s all about noise and its creation. Don’t get me wrong, I use Social Networking, but I don’t live on it. I don’t quest for the perfect shot, like everyone else’s perfect shot (of exactly the same place). I also find it disappointing that many people think posting pictures of their breakfast, endless quotes or where they’re flying off to next (commonly known as please come and burgle my house) is engaging. For centuries we have evolved to be story tellers, filled with emotion, expression and life, not creators of throw away statements, pictures or noise.
‘Let he who shouts the loudest be heard first’ is a phrase I abhor. I prefer Shakespeare’s ‘The empty vessel makes the loudest sound’. Noise doesn’t have to mean physical volume. It can also mean disruption, disturbance and unpleasantness. You only have to look at the present politics of chest beating and screaming to see this phrase in pathetic action. I’m surprised all politicians statements aren’t typed in CAPITAL LETTERS WITH FAR TOO MUCH PUNCTUATION!!! I much prefer Peter Mosely’s approach of ‘Shouting Quietly’ (although I’m a huge fan of Disaster Area)
Iceland has taken action due to huge numbers of people damaging flora and fauna in their desperate desire for the perfect Instagram shot. Many of their mosses are extremely delicate and people need to understand that they can’t trample anywhere with abandon and do no damage. The benefits of ‘Leave No Trace’ have been replaced by ‘post pictures at any cost and make lots of noise’. I’m with Iceland.
This year has been a dark one for mountaineering, with the tragic loss of a number of climbers including Tom Ballard and Martin Moran. I received many calls about both incidents and took part in a number of press interviews. I felt no need to blog or write about these as the media was already beyond saturation point, but accepted that working in the field I do, the press will call. I was personally invited to speak at a service for Martin in the beautiful village of Torridon and drove almost a thousand mile round trip to talk for only a few minutes. I found no need to shout about it, as peace and quiet felt more appropriate.
My choices have been changed dramatically as of late. The spontaneity of travel has been stemmed, but I still get away. I appreciate what I have, my family and my memories. These are private moments for me, rather than for everyone else. I speak with much love about the relationship my father and I shared, but I don’t want to shout about them. My father was a quiet man. I can’t ever remember him raising his voice, as his whispers could move mountains.
Life is full of choices and rather than putting them off, you should take them.
If you did, what choices will you make..?
If you make them, don’t feel the need to tell everyone. There’s no need to create even more noise.
Whisper into you own ear and just tell yourself…