Vail Valley Voices: Life at the core |

Vail Valley Voices: Life at the core

Darryl Bangert
Vail, CO, Colorado

Are you the center of the universe? You cannot be because I am. Can we all be the center?

That is a good test to any question as Emmanuel Kant proposed in his philosophies. Take a statement and universalize it to see if it makes sense.

So perhaps we are not the center, yet we approach outdoor recreation in this manner as a species.

This is viewing the natural from our own individual subjective perspective.

Our world is its own thing – not yours, not mine. Do we get it?

The more you try and control nature, the more frustrated you become and the more you miss the point.

It is not about you. Thank God it is not about us!

We live in a mountain environment, and there are thousands of views as to what that means.

For example: “The river is too high.” “No, it is too low. “It is too cold out.” “It is …” whine, whine.

“I ski on sunny days only.” “I ski on powder days only.” “I paddle the river …” when it is high, when it is low, only when it is safe, when it fits my view.

All these sayings – and we have heard and uttered them – are pretty lame. I live here for the mountains, but they must be on my terms.

“I conquered that peak!” That could be the one that makes me cringe the most.

Close seconds: “I hiked up this peak, and then I saw a snowmobile near me and it ruined my experience,” or “I saw a bike” or other people or whatever.

Quick question. After you conquer that peak, does it just crumble, does it bow down to your greatness? I think it is just the same after your big several-hour occupation. In fact, it is probably similar in very many thousands of years.

After you master that rapid, is the river impressed? If you die on a peak or river, does either care or notice?

The view I like is a lot simpler.

Hillary’s great misinterpreted quote, “Because it’s there” about his first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 is another great example taken by those who conquer peaks.

Sir Edmund’s quote, as he told a friend of mine, was actually the “there” meaning a “peace of mind,” of being here and now. Of embracing the natural world as it is with no personal agendas.

Hillary was talking about being humble and willing to learn about the very cool, unique characteristics of wherever you are. Because “it’s there” on some river, strolling some high ridge, ascending a big face, secreting along a desert canyon, just listening and understanding the feel of a place.

I read sensational headlines and stories about our species succumbing to these natural forces, and of course, I am saddened by the unexpected departure of somebody’s loved one.

Yet these stories are perceived to be a shock to us, the activity is not safe. The world is not a safe place! Safe is only in our minds.

Life is either a grand adventure or it is nothing at all.

Darryl Bangert has a degree in environmental studies and is the co-owner of Sage Outdoor Adventures, offering guided raft, snowmobile and various other forms of outdoor recreation with different organizations for 34 years in the Vail Valley.

Support Local Journalism