The parallels, symbols and comparisons between climbing and the battle against kidney cancer are rich and instructive.  Climbing is a metaphor for life and its application is even more insightful to those facing the challenge of kidney cancer.  Here are some quotes from climbers, poets, psalms and philosophers about mountains and what they can teach us as we climb.  These are inspiring and give some insight into the journey that begins with the words, “You have cancer.”

4 Things a Mountain Teaches

1. The mountain teaches silence: it discourages idle chatter, useless words, and exuberant and pointless effusive outbursts.

2. The mountain teaches inner discipline; a total control of reflexes; the style of a deliberate, lucid and purposeful action; a boldness that is not reckless or hasty, but which is connected to the knowledge of one’s limitations and strengths and of the exact terms of the problems to be solved.

3. The mountain empowers one to act, to perform without spectators and to display a heroism that shuns rhetoric and grandiose gestures.

4. The mountain leads to a special way of being and acting together.  The experience of the mountain is a sense of active solidarity, which keeps a distance between people and yet presupposes the full harmony of their forces because the precise assessment of and trust of each member’s potential.” -Julius Evola

The Old Poets of China

Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe
that I do not want it. Now I understand
why the old poets of China went so far and high
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.

~Mary Oliver in Why I wake early

“The nearest explanation that I had for why we climbed was because it let us edge along the thin line between life and death, because for a brief moment it changed our perspectives on life. That chance encounter with the dark side made us realized quite how important it was simply to be alive; it made us live.We did it because we loved it and for no other reason. We didn’t philosophize our way up frozen waterfalls or ponder the great mysteries of life as we endured storms and hard times on the hills. We just took whatever enjoyment we could glean from the experience.” ~ Joe Simpson in The Beckoning Silence

“Managing fear is about separating perceived risks from real risks and focusing on mitigating those real risks. You try to focus on the task at hand.” ~Jimmy Chin

“Hardship and great effort hardly matters since the life of a mountain climber is an introduction to death, and when death comes or is about to come, the climber is at least partially prepared.” ~ Quoted anonymously in The Beckoning Silence

The hardship and great effort of a cancer patient that comes with the diagnosis of cancer and the subsequent treatment, is an introduction to death, and when death comes, the cancer patient is at least partially prepared.

 “We’re not exultant; but delighted, joyful; soberly astonished…Have we vanquished an enemy? None but ourselves.” ~ George Mallory after the ascent of Mt. Blanc

“Thinking back…I appreciate why I come to the mountains; not to conquer them but to immerse myself in their incomprehensible immensity–so much bigger than we are; to better comprehend humility and patience, balance and harmony, with the desire to push hard; to share what the hills offer and to share it in the long term with good friends and ultimately with my own sons” ~ Alex Lowe

“The old questions we ask ourselves about climbing took on new meaning. We knew the risk. Should we have done something different?  Are the risks we take worth the rewards they bring? What drives us to climb? The exploration of the unknown has led humanity to where we are today. The quest for knowledge, the willingness to accept risk for an unknown outcome, has allowed people to progress spiritually and intellectually. The thrill of discovering new reaches remains with many of us, in all walks of life. those of us who found this calling and pursue it in the mountains are fortunate.” ~ Conrad Anker

“Sometimes you have to be up really high to understand how small you are.” This was said 24.5 miles above the earth’s atmosphere as he looked down from his ballon just prior to his historic jump. ~ Felix Baumgartner

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” 

~ John Muir

 “The mountain … is the threshold over which anyone who wants to be initiated must cross; otherwise it’s better to never have been born, because the meaning of life is found only through realizing oneself.   But we realize ourselves only by putting ourselves to the test.” ~ Reanato del Ponte

“The point is, the ‘high’ knows the ‘low’, but the ‘low’ does not know the ‘high’.” ~ Rene Daumal

 “I have recognized that a passionate involvement in the act of mountaineering, and the constant menace of danger disturbing the very depths of our being, are the source of powerful moral or religious emotions which may be of the greatest spirituality.”

~Guido Lammer

The mountains shall bring peace to the people

Psalms 72:3