Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Monday, May 08, 2017

A view from the top

Min Bahadur Sherchan was 85 when he died on Saturday afternoon--heart attack, or so people guess, nary a medical facility anywhere close. But he died where he certainly wanted to be, or at least halfway there, at the base camp on his final climb up Everest.

Mr. Sherchan had mountain-climbing in his blood and, without a doubt, in his heart. He was challenging a record he'd lost not long ago when, at the age of 80, a Japanese octogenarian named Yuichiro Miura fought his way 30,000 feet up to the top of the mountain. Sherchan, who'd held the previous record at 76, wanted to own the record book once again. He won't.

The man was in fine shape, walking 16 to 18 kilometers daily, but the body--the human body--has finite resources, like it or not. The head of the local Sherpa climbing club admitted, ruefully, that Mr. Sherchan "was physically well, but was challenged by age."

Sweet understatement, I'm sure.

I don't know what to think Sherchan's death. It seems altogether too obvious that Sherchan was crazy, assuming he could assault Everest at an age when his friends were already buried in Nepalese ground--and just a week after "the Swiss Machine," a world-class, master climber named Ueli Steck, fell a couple of thousand feet to his death.

But maybe Min Bahadur Sherchan was a hero. After all, his GoFundMe page claimed he was climbing one more time to “spread world peace and preserve mankind." I don't know that his death will prompt ISIS to strike out boldly for peace, but his motives were dandy.

Once upon a time, a local octogenarian went down with a heart attack and died in a farm pond where he was fishing, alone. People found his body sometime later in the water.

My 97-year-old father-in-law, probably 85 himself back then, hurrmphed at the story, a bit of a giggle, or something close. No disrespect--that wasn't it. Clearly, it was too bad the man had departed.

But, Dad couldn't help saying that the old guy could have done worse, all by himself out there on a warm and sunny afternoon, hoping for a couple of chubby pan fish.

I won't speak for Mr. Sherchan's next of kin, who, amid their sorrow, are, at his moment, making plans for a funeral. I'm sure he will be missed.

But I can't help wonder if Min Bahadur Sherchan himself, going the way he did, half way up to the top of the world, Everest before him, isn't cracking a smile right now, so greatly blessed.

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