Want to Clip In?

You have a gift that only you can give the world – that’s the whole reason you’re on the planet.” – Oprah Winfrey

I saw this caption on Instagram from author and climber Jon Krakauer the other day.

“Today I watched the sun come up from this perch at 12,000 feet. It’s impossible to overstate how powerful experiences like this are for me, and how grateful I am to have such opportunities on our public lands.” – @krakauernotwriting

It reminded me of a story that my friend Doug told me. Doug was 15 or 16 years old climbing Mt. Hood in Oregon with his grandfather. They reached about 9,000 feet and his grandfather couldn’t climb any further. So he asked a passing rope team if his grandson could climb with them for the remaining 2,200 feet.

They agreed and Doug had a wonderful summit with these guys in their mid-20’s. When they returned to Doug’s grandfather, he thanked them for being willing to take Doug along. The rope leader said he’d done a great job and he was welcome to climb with them any time. Then he wrote his name down on a napkin and handed it to Doug. This is how I imagine it looked:

Doug never called the team leader – who was in fact THE Jon Krakauer who went on to write Into the Wild and Into Thin Air and many other great books (and climb some great routes). But in his own way, Jon Krakauer has been taking us along on his climbing adventures for 40 years. His passion for the outdoors and for writing has combined to bring us on his rope team for many years. And even when he’s not writing, according to his Instagram moniker, he’s sharing adventure with us and inspiring stewardship of this land.

A rope team usually has 5-6 people on it. The leader is most often the strongest climber or navigator, there’s usually someone on the team that organizes and keeps people together but everyone on the team works equally as hard and contributes to the safety and inspiration of all.

This idea of how we all contribute to the rope teams reminds me of what Nicholas Christakis, professor of sociology at Yale, says about his work studying the long view of human history. He’s deeply optimistic about our ability to cooperate, teach others and love because we are one of the only species that does that outside of the family structure.

As Oprah says in the quote for the post, we all have a gift we can give the world, a reason that we are on this planet. Oprah, Nicholas Christakis, Jon Krakauer – they are like the dream team of climbers reminding us all that when we share with our gifts with others, we make the world a better place. Want to clip in?

(featured photo is mine from Mt. Ixtacchuatl, Mexico)

22 thoughts on “Want to Clip In?

  1. Wonderful story, Wynne! Just so I’m clear: was the rope leader Doug encountered Jon Krakurer? Nevertheless, what an adventure and how giving of his grandfather to let him go ahead to experience that.

    Life is about experiences and how wonderful when you can do it together with a wonderful team – family or not.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I can’t say everyone I’ve met has the “gift” you’ve described, but your optimism surely brings out the best many have. For that, Wynne, I’m grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree, Wynne, all of us have a unique gift to share with the world–that’s our purpose. Thanks for another great post! So cool about the note from Jon Krakauer. Although not a climber, I read “Into Thin Air” many years ago and enjoyed it immensely.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. A sense of purpose was something that I struggled with until recently, despite having a long career in paramedicine. When you find “it,” you definitely know. It lives you!

        Great story–thanks again for sharing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I wonder if it’s simply easier for some not to try, maybe thinking that unless they have the ability to contribute something big then why do much at all? Even the smallest gesture or word can create something positive in another person’s life.

    Liked by 1 person

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