I wonder how many times you have made plans, only to find them falling apart around your ears..? As Robert Burns once wrote “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, Gang aft agley”.
Having been in engineering for almost 30 years, I’ve become a planner. Charts galore adorn my office with targets dotted all over them. My mountaineering life is little different with flights, climbing schedules, equipment and people planned to the last inch. Of course thing can and will change on a minute by minute basis, and it is this flexibility which defines the professionalism in my two spheres of life.
Because of my engineering work, I have to plan my expeditions carefully. Basically my engineering pays for my adventures, so priorities have to be balanced. Of course I know what id rather be doing, but I receive no funding through sponsorship and expeditions are not cheap.
There is another side to consider however, and that is my health. Skin grafts adorn many parts of my body. They are temperamental and delicate, requiring consistent care and attention. A few weeks ago I slipped and damaged my right heel. The graft burst and has been holed ever since. Treatment has achieved a little, but it has been an uphill battle to repair, what seems a tiny hole. Finally, and after much ado, dozens of phone calls and hospital visits, I have a heel cast on the graft, which should aid recovery. The downside is that I’m under orders to rest as much as possible to allow the repair. I was going to the Cairngorms in Scotland with my climbing partner Ian, to blunt our axes on the mixed routes there, but I had to telephone him yesterday with the bad news. I’ve never been a person for letting others down, and hate being let down myself. Unfortunately there is little that I can do, but that doesn’t make the situation any easier.
I’ve always been a person to give more to others, than to myself. Some call it a life of service. On occasions like this however, I have to rest otherwise I’m letting the most important person down – me. If I can’t get onto my feet, then I’m a liability, and unable to help others. I have the coming ICEMAN Polar Race to consider (although this is not the training I was looking for), and my feet aren’t getting any younger. When you’ve got hip and groin tissue holing your blood in, you’re always fighting a losing battle.
As humans we’re terrible at taking care of ourselves. We keep going whatever our ills, but think of this – if your car illuminated a warning light on the dashboard, what would you do..? You’d probably take it to a garage and get it fixed. What do you do when your body sends a warning..? Keep going..?
So don’t feel too bad if you have to let someone down, if it’s for the right reasons. Of course, if it’s because you can’t be bothered, or have had a better offer, then prepare to incur their displeasure..!
The ability to know when to stop and when to keep going are absolute essentials if you want to spent time on the mountains. You have clearly taken that on board. A right decision the mountains will be there next year, this way so will you.