I’ve always loved climbing. Be it trees, rocks, or urban climbing. We’ve recently arrived in Yosemite, and I went to the base of El Captain Mountain, the one that appears in the documentary Free Solo. The mountain is breathtaking. The movie too. At first, the film seems to be about the courage to climb a 3,000-foot mountain without a rope. But the documentary is much more than that. As the protagonist shows, with enough practice, you can even climb it with a broken foot.
The real courage, the film reveals, is doing what you love in a world where almost everyone has given up on their dream to be an artist, athlete, adventurous, to become employees, doctors, entrepreneurs, franchise managers, or lawyers.
The film shows a child who likes to climb rocks and dares to keep doing it throughout his years.
For fear of ending up living in a van like the protagonist, we choose the safest route and give up adventure. We choose a life full of ropes. Full of insurance, paychecks, locks, warranties, saving accounts, and backups. And in exchange, we agreed to let go of what made us happy so we could feel a fake sense of security.
To make up for our lack of adventure in our life, we rely on devices to bring us movies, games, and tv series where someone else ventures for us.
That’s why actors and athletes are the highest-paid professionals in the world. Because they deliver the most valuable thing today: they distract us from our own dull lives by bringing fake adventures and a bogus sense of accomplishment when our team wins.
But like any addiction, those things soothe temporarily but don’t satisfy our necessity for adventure and accomplishment. So we quickly need another tv series when we finish one, we need to watch another game next week.
True adventure is something else; it’s the willingness to face the unpredictable. It’s to have the courage to follow our desires rather than the plans drawn up by our bosses, clients, or our parents. And risk failing by the standards of others.
“Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out is mute,” wrote Milan Kundera in The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
By the end of the documentary, the guy manages to climb the mountain, and recently he became famous. But he was already happy and successful since he decided to be true to his dreams and do what he loved.