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Thread: Contemplating mortality

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    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Contemplating mortality

    Hello, Everyone: the first thing I need to say here is — don't worry! There's nothing wrong with me. I'm in very fine shape here.

    But let me explain why I decided to start this thread. And besides, I know for a fact that there are quite a few members who might like to join in a thoughtful, spiritual discussion about our limited human lifespan. Not one of us is exempt from that.

    So here's the intro to the thread.

    As many know, I'm still frequently active out in the high mountains with my dog, and in my day I was a rock climber, ice climber and ski-mountaineer with quite a lot of experience in the greater ranges. I've had some close calls, but have never once suffered the slightest injury, nor has anyone I've ever been climbing with.

    For those who may not be familiar, here are two interesting threads. The first contains a rather remarkable human story (of mine), and the second contains a bunch of very remarkable stories shared by myself and many other members.
    What prompted this new thread was an interesting experience I had just yesterday. I sometimes browse through the mountaineering and climbing websites, and I came across something I'd not known was there... a bunch of climbers' obituaries. The pages, each of them long and detailed, and all linked to each other, read like this:
    Climbers we lost in 2020
    Climbers we lost in 2019
    Climbers we lost in 2018
    ...
    going all the say back to
    ...
    Climbers we lost in 2012.

    The pages contained some famous names I'd known — though none personally — many of whom had come to grief on the world's dangerous, high mountains. But there were also many others I'd never heard of, little-known recreational climbers like myself, missed only by their close friends and families.

    Some listed had lived to a ripe old age, passing peacefully in their sleep. Some who had been the very strongest and most heroic in their day had succumbed to debilitating illnesses, becoming great lions now fading in winter.

    But some were in their early twenties or thirties, and many had been killed in accidents. The kind that I was so very potentially familiar with, but had always avoided.

    And because this was written for mountaineers, in the cases of those who had perished in accidents, the accidents were fully described. It all felt very close to home.

    A handhold in the rock broke while climbing solo; a falling rock cut the climbing rope; they slipped off a steep path down into a deep gorge; an avalanche had swept away their tent while sleeping. And many fell while rappelling (abseiling) — always the most dangerous thing a climber can do, often treated lightly simply through familiarity.

    The obituaries were beautifully written, without exception. As I browsed the pages, at first I was skipping through the names to find those I knew of. Then I felt that I should really honor all of them, by taking time to read every one. Each one of these good people had lived a wonderful life, even though it had often been curtailed in their prime.

    And I dived into that for hours and hours. It was quite an experience. The lives, families, dreams and aspirations of these active, healthy, energetic people were all laid out. Wow. And with so, so many photographs of smiling, happy faces out in the wilderness on days when nothing could go wrong.

    There was one account in particular that just stopped me in my tracks. I thought about it for a long time.

    There was a climber who had survived just about every situation imaginable in his climbing life, but was then caught alone in a bad car wreck when he skidded off the road.

    He freed himself, and started to stagger a quarter mile toward some houses where he could find help. But half way there, he apparently realized he wasn't going to make the distance.

    So he found his way down the bank to the river that ran alongside the road, where there was a big, very beautiful tree. There he sat quietly under the tree, all alone next to the river. And there, peacefully leaning against the tree, was where his body was found the next day.

    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 28th February 2021 at 22:48.

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    Switzerland Avalon Member Nasu's Avatar
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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    Lovely post Bill. Like you I am a former climber, mountains or rock, like you I am still active just not at the level I was, nowhere close. E2 down to HVS!! They say there are old climbers and bold climber but no old bold climbers. Some of the things one witnesses when living these pursuits are so incredible and so magical and mystical that for the most part the stories go untold as they are hard to fathom let along recount or try to understand.

    My own feeling is that these realizations or understandings that one comes to, could only be come to by risking everything, and surviving, often for nothing more than the risk itself. The good friends I have lost to extreme sports over the years is also the list of most of my most active alive friends. Yes they died, often tragically, but they also lived much more than most. The candle that burns the brightest burns the shortest time.

    Although I don't risk to the extent that I once did, I still feel it is very important to get out into the wilds and feel close to nature, close to the edge. Ultimately living a life of measured risk gives one the confidence and understanding not to die in that moment, until we die of course. No matter what we do none of us get out of this game alive, so ergo let's enjoy the ride as best we can.

    I loved the way they went down to the tree by the river to die, that's enjoying life to the fullest right there.

    All of us benefit from time away from the couch.....x.... N
    Last edited by Nasu; 28th February 2021 at 23:27.

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    Bill,

    Very moving story about the man who had the insight and resolve to find a tree in nature to be with. when death approached.

    Having worked in hospice, I realise time is short and precious. Death and grief are part of life.

    In hospice, I was in awe at those who faced death with courage, strength and dignity and to those left behind, digging deep to face their grief.

    At the moment, I and some that I know are coming to terms with the death of someone young, so full of life, sadly taken away to soon in a road traffic accident.

    Tragedy can happen in the blink of an eye. The world you knew can change very quickly and grief then becomes an unwelcome companion.

    I'm OK in this and in a position to support.

    We live in a world where death is really not that far away from our lives.

    With this truth in mind, for me, as best I can. it's best to live a life of gratitude, smiles and kindness.

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    I too have had brushes with death and could only shake my head at the miracle of my continuation in this body.

    Blown out of a mall's electrical room with my boss, through bolted steel frame doors, still holding onto melted pliers that crossed the mains, lifting ourselves up after being rendered unconscious, unscathed and intact. How could that have happened but for the grace of God?

    There must have been more we both were meant yet to accomplish. The side of good can change reality in an instant and bestow a miracle wherever it must happen, regardless of the 'Laws of Nature'. Neither nature nor science is any match for the angels of God!

    What God wills is always done.

    Thanks for your moving story.
    Last edited by Ernie Nemeth; 1st March 2021 at 02:50.
    Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water...Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. Bruce Lee

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    Bill, very moving and timely. I came across your great post while watching The Grey, a very harsh and frightening movie about the harshness of nature, survival and death in the wild.
    All this has been on my mind. How death awaits us all, and no one knows how far or close. I listen to NDE,S on a regular basis. Many testify to the thin veil it is that divides us from what will be met by all.
    All I can say is Im very concerned. Not by the inevitably of death, but by thoughts of if our best days are over? Are we on some downturn. Is freedom and the life we have been living at threat ? It seems like the game we have collectively been playing, by choice or not, is at some end, and I don't know whats coming.

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    That final story of the man who found a tree next to the river to pass his final moments: wow, the human story embodied; is someone peeling onions?
    For some reason I am reminded of the Scole experiment, verified by people of such credibility as Rupert Sheldrake: communicating with the 'spirit world' and the next
    station on our journey. It is worthwhile revisiting that experiment it was something very special I think. Our mortality provides the poignant urgency in our lives, and at coming up to 63 this year I know
    there is way more behind me, than in front.

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    Learning of death as a young child I remember being outraged by the possibility that my older brother would not necessarily die first. It just felt so unfair that he got a few more years than me. Accepting that anyone at anytime can be taken from our lives is part of growing up. Living a life based on the fragility of it all is a push to being the best we can be at all times and in all situations.

    I remember my grandmother telling me that you never feel old inside no matter how old you get. That is so true. Only the body ages. Deep inside I am still the very same. Through just that I know only the body dies.

    It is my intent to live consciously and to pass on consciously. I can't think of anywhere better to do that than in nature, with a tree, connected to source.

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    A friend of mine died at 18 (together with his best friend) whilst climbing that certain mountain in Switzerland. He fell a long way down and I always dreaded what he must had going through his mind when falling to his death. I still feel sorrow when I think of that, almost 30 years later.
    Your post Bill, it took me back to that time. I think of him regularly I must say, him and many other who have died before their time (I feel we all do, no matter the age), but in his case I always try to skip the thought of that moment, on the other hand, it strengthens my own resolve for some reason.
    "Respect Him, Breath of Life". "-AMN-"

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    Thanks to Bill and everyone for their thoughts, there are some very poignant reflections here.

    I've always been too much of a scaredy-cat for extreme sports; my only seemingly brush with death was an aborted landing coming into an airport. The plane suddenly climbed and for 5 minutes we had no idea what was happening. I was scared, prayed to every deity I could think of as I wondered, "am I going to die today?" Then acceptance of whatever may come would be out of my hands. We were then told that a plane had nipped in front of us, we were too close and had to climb, then we landed safely.

    A lesson I learnt from a childhood friend who killed herself by jumping in front of a train at the age of 21 was that bad things that happen in your life will pass. She killed herself as her boyfriend had dumped her; she was so beautiful with a bubbly personality, it always seemed such a waste for her to end it all for that reason. There would have been many more fish in the sea for her, but maybe that was the path of her soul to experience a short life.

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    Young lives taken too soon, a friend completed ascent of Shepherd’s Crag, Borrowdale, stood up at top and blown off by a gust of wind - in his teens - a beautiful lad. The Lake District is stunning, beautiful on a sunny quiet dawn, but unforgiving to those who are innocent and inexperienced.

    Life can be snatched away in an instant, but now I am old, must prepare for the inevitable and do paperwork/declutter/make it easier for family to ‘tidy up’ after me. Do we really need all the ‘stuff’ we’ve accumulated? Go with a ‘clean’ conscience, make up with friends and family, and return to source happily.
    The love you withhold is the pain that you carry
    and er..
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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    Quote Posted by thepainterdoug (here)
    Bill, very moving and timely. I came across your great post while watching The Grey, a very harsh and frightening movie about the harshness of nature, survival and death in the wild.
    All this has been on my mind. How death awaits us all, and no one knows how far or close. I listen to NDE,S on a regular basis. Many testify to the thin veil it is that divides us from what will be met by all.
    All I can say is Im very concerned. Not by the inevitably of death, but by thoughts of if our best days are over? Are we on some downturn. Is freedom and the life we have been living at threat ? It seems like the game we have collectively been playing, by choice or not, is at some end, and I don't know whats coming.
    I read that with a sense of recognition. I've had much the same feeling over the past few months. However, I've also found that I'm coming to terms with my own mortality in a way I'd never really done before. It's both a recognition and an acceptance. Not passivity, I'm up for any challenge that may present itself, but I'm also readier now should the moment be imminent.

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    Bill,
    Taking the time to pay homage to the courage of existence, the joy of life, and to contemplate the exposition of life and death, (both beautiful and equally in memory), and the merits and beauty of existence, in spite of each tragedy, is an honor and a virtue brought to the value itself in the greatest quality of commemorative and meditative gratitude I have ever seen.
    Thank you to those who protected you, thank you for taking care of yourself.
    Your speech in the simplest way is a statement of praise for the opportunity to celebrate life and the simplicity of accepting the final summary, a kind of true reminder for all of us in the heritage of what we call humanity.

    Take care!
    Every human is a question asked to the Spirit of the Universe,again and again,because every human is an endless row of humans and in all humans together dwelling the Great Human Spirit.

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    I think I missed the essence of the thread. Sorry. Very touching and sad about the mountain climbers. I was watching something the other day about a young person who was murdered. Film clips showed a girl who was in love with the idea of her future.

    Rather than uplifting, though, I find tales of courage and people cut down in youth mountain climbing, paragliding or otherwise "doing what they loved," kind of depressing. Like, I wish they had taken up stamp collecting.

    When I reflect on my own death, I look forward to what comes after.
    Last edited by AutumnW; 2nd March 2021 at 01:32.

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    I believe I posted my, so far, ultimate experience of being one with god's heaven some time ago. As a result, I do not fear death or rather its after death experience. I awoke very early one morning. I lived near the sea cliffs. It was just before sunrise. Sitting on a rock awaiting the rise of the sun over the sea's horizon, the first ray seemed to penetrate to my pineal gland and I was transported in a moment outside of time to the presence of a great being who was located on a platform high above my head. He was looking over its side and asked me what I wanted. I had returned to the land of my birth and was away from my parents as an adult for the very first time alone. I said, "I wish a home." By this time he was standing next to and facing me, 25 feet high. Next to my left shoulder were two 3' diameter orbs of light. They had no personality but I knew they were guardian angels of God. God, replied to me, "I am your home. You will return to me." The next thing I knew was that I was facing the direction from which I had come, but my world had vanished and I was reclining on my back possibly 200 ft. away from God who was still standing. My world and its worries were no longer in my mind. Instead, I was in a conscious rest of Great Peace, love, Joy (which I had never experienced in this world), a feeling that all that ever were, and would be existed simultaneously with me and were somewhere to the back of where I was. There was a winding river to my left back and a lamb (probably Biblical symbols in my memory.) The experience subsided, God and I looked at each other and I was returned in mind to my seat by the cliff, having no memory of what had just taken place. It was an experience "Outside of Time." I cannot remember how many hours passed before I was allowed to remember. In addition to the above, I experienced being high up on a distant cliff and the Holy Spirit being poured into me. For an extended period of weeks or months, I was in a "state of grace." If you had come to kill me I would only have loved you and blessed you. I could not feel anger or fear. Thinking of what could have caused this, I remember being pierced through my pineal gland with the first ray of the sun's light as it rose over the horizon. Also, I remembered I had asked God to let me see him one week before this happened. Years later I read about the Pharaoh who "Worshiped the Sun." He had my experience, I feel sure. Also, I must mention that in this area of the Island there is a lot of UFO activity and possibly an under sea base.

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    United States Avalon Member thepainterdoug's Avatar
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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    amor, thanks for sharing your experience. I wonder, is this experience all you now need? Do you still need for more other worldly events and re assurances? Or has this singular experience filled you for a lifetime, to help you thru this ordeal we live?

    I read of many others having similar other worldly moments be it OBE or NDE. They seem to be such a gift in my eyes
    But why do many of us never have something like this? Something that can pull us thru when we are desperate for some sign, some re assurance that this is just a dream, an illusion, and that a true home awaits.

    I wonder if you say, thank you for this ? For this one vision that proves to me that there is a true home coming. Or does it wear off and darkness seeps in again? many thanks

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    Quote Posted by Mad Scientist (here)
    A friend of mine died at 18 (together with his best friend) whilst climbing that certain mountain in Switzerland. He fell a long way down and I always dreaded what he must had going through his mind when falling to his death.
    When I was young there was a favorite summertime water spot to cool off at, and there was a path that led up to the 40’ cliff where those so inclined could jump off. Only thing was you had to make sure and really jump out, because straight down was nothing but jagged boulders.

    Well being young and dumb, I got to clowning around up there, and next thing I knew I was slipping over the edge, facing the cliff. As I awaited the inedible moment of impact that would be crushing my body, only two things went through my mind: “So this is how it ends”, and “I’m sorry my sister and parents are here to see it happen”.

    There was no fear, just a calm resignation that it’s game over. I would imagine your friend had a similar mindset on his way down.

    But son of a gun, I hit water and not boulders. Turns out there WAS, one tiny gap on the line of boulders just wide enough for a skinny 18 year old to barely fit through, and that was precisely where I landed with nothing but a gashed open shin that would leave a fine little scar to remember it by.
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    Netherlands Avalon Member Mad Scientist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    Quote Posted by Gracy May (here)
    Quote Posted by Mad Scientist (here)
    A friend of mine died at 18 (together with his best friend) whilst climbing that certain mountain in Switzerland. He fell a long way down and I always dreaded what he must had going through his mind when falling to his death.
    When I was young there was a favorite summertime water spot to cool off at, and there was a path that led up to the 40’ cliff where those so inclined could jump off. Only thing was you had to make sure and really jump out, because straight down was nothing but jagged boulders.

    Well being young and dumb, I got to clowning around up there, and next thing I knew I was slipping over the edge, facing the cliff. As I awaited the inedible moment of impact that would be crushing my body, only two things went through my mind: “So this is how it ends”, and “I’m sorry my sister and parents are here to see it happen”.

    There was no fear, just a calm resignation that it’s game over. I would imagine your friend had a similar mindset on his way down.

    But son of a gun, I hit water and not boulders. Turns out there WAS, one tiny gap on the line of boulders just wide enough for a skinny 18 year old to barely fit through, and that was precisely where I landed with nothing but a gashed open shin that would leave a fine little scar to remember it by.
    In your case it must have been a situation of meant to be, I mean that's just winning the lottery, if anyone ever asks you if you did, you can say yes.

    My friend was one of those People that was seen as a "Saint", took care of his Grandmother for about a year, every single day, still being in Highschool, friendly as they come. He always had a special respect for me because I already was a Veteran when I met him, I was 3-4 years older. He was not in my life for long, but he is/was someone one will not forget, there's more to the story fitting this Forum, let's just say I was the 1st one to know he died without anyone else knowing, I did not even know he was out there either, he kept it from everybody because they did the Northside of the Mountain, thing is that he took all safety measures and was let down by (brandnew) equipment, meant to be? They always say that the good die young, in his case definitively true.

    Thank you for your reply, I can see how he would have thought of his family.

    Glad you made it, :-)
    "Respect Him, Breath of Life". "-AMN-"

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    I've had my share of hiking, but never ventured into mountain climbing... just never gave a thought to experiencing that level of chance. The chances I took had more to do with the sea/sailing as I felt a bit more 'control' over my situation.

    That said, I'd love for Bill to provide 'commentary' on a story from Col. Wendell Steven's trove of encounters, particularly as he's currently in the same general vicinity of this particular encounter (South America / Andes mountains) ... that of the story "Apu".
    (The 'really good part' is on page 2! An affirmation that "We Create Our Reality")
    http://www.galactic-server.net/RUNE/apu1.html

    As a side note: I was looking to see if this story is archived in Avalon's library... I could not find it, but I do have a pdf version to add if it doesn't exist!

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    --


    Stop ! I'm far too young to be thinking about all this

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    Default Re: Contemplating mortality

    I’ve had a number of close calls in my life.

    Nearly drowning at age 8 or so when I decided to dive into the deep end, knowing I could not swim. Near miss car accidents. That is, being in a car when another driver missed me, head on, but hit the cars behind me killing others. (That happened twice.)

    Nearly being shot while in the Army when a round “cooked off” in another soldiers weapon just as I was about to step in front of him down range and equipment failure when parachuting out of C-130s or C-141s. In the “cook off” incident, I literally felt a “hand” grab my right shoulder and pull me back and stop me from taking the next, and perhaps final, step. (In fact I stopped myself from taking that next step but simultaneously it felt as if I was pulled back.) A cook off is when a weapon has been fired so much, that a round in the chamber will fire, not because the trigger was pulled but because the weapon is so hot that gunpowder expands in the rounds in the chamber without pulling the trigger causing all rounds in the magazine to fire; hence the term cook off.

    In the parachuting incidents, it was not my equipment that failed, but the equipment of others. I was safely on the ground after jumping, but helmets, weapons, canteens and other things were falling on the landing zone around me because others did not properly secure their equipment before exiting the aircraft. More injuries and deaths occur during military jumps by falling equipment than by a parachuting not opening. At least that was true at one time.

    I do not fear death. I’m more concerned about the quality of my life (and my loved ones), not the quantity. On that point, I believe there is more cause for concern on both fronts now than in the past 50 or so years.
    Last edited by Satori; 3rd March 2021 at 00:53.

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