There is nothing in life that doesn’t require movement. Even the most sedentary person requires a certain amount of movement to survive; right down to the blood that keeps their heart pumping. Without movement, life ceases.
In 2012, my brother Elden took his own life. It was tragic and very unexpected, as those things usually are. At the time, I was visiting my sister in Iowa and had to rush back to my hometown in Idaho to help arrange the funeral. I drove to the airport and hopped on a flight that seemed never-ending.
Thousands of feet below the plane, I could see human life rushing from point A to point B and it didn’t make sense to me. My brother had just died and it felt like the only logical next step was for all life to pause. The passengers around me and the cars below me didn’t know what I was going through. They didn’t know I was experiencing the worst day of my life. Their movement was an insult to my pain.
I needed a prolonged moment of silence that could give clarity to what had happened. My flight eventually landed and the next day, funeral preparations went into motion. As we chose a casket, wrote an obituary, and gathered with friends and family to grieve, it was evermore apparent that there would be no prolonged moment of silence. There would be no period of time that could give clarity to our loss.
The funeral was a blur and eventually family and friends left us to our own devices. The only choice we had as a family was to keep moving. Moving towards healing and moving towards bigger and better things for our time left on earth. Living our lives in a way that would make my brother proud was now at the center of our hearts.
It was his “prolonged moment of silence” that made us realize that movement is the only thing that gives us clarity and meaning. We don’t look back and reminisce over the times we did nothing with our time, we remember the moments that were extraordinary.
That is when I looked to the outdoors for healing. In the years that followed his death, I found that the more I sought adventure in nature, the closer I felt to Elden. He loved the outdoors and he and I had that in common. The worries of day to day life seemed minuscule in comparison to the joy that could be found in the Sawtooths, one of our favorite escapes.
While I still desire understanding as to why he did what he did, I have found the value of making each moment count. Now that he is gone, I continue to adventure and mark my travels with photography. Nature may not be the answer to every person’s troubles, but it has been the greatest healing tool for me. Each summit gives me a sense of accomplishment. Each landscape taken is a symbol of survival and overcoming challenges. The only limits we have are the limits we give ourselves.
As the earth turns, we turn with it. We are bound to a beautiful planet full of unimaginable geography, and I believe we owe it to ourselves and those who love us to keep moving. When I strap on my hiking gear and go to the mountains, I know I am giving myself the opportunity to grow as a human being and I know I am allowing myself to heal. Each step pushes me to a place that I, and maybe no one else, have never been before. There is more to life than death. Move towards what makes you happy. Move towards new heights. As long as your heart is beating, make each beat count.
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