Your Calling, your Reason to Live, your Mt Everest


“9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.
You may never reach the summit; for that you will be forgiven. But if you don’t make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow-line, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness.
This metaphorical Mount Everest doesn’t have to manifest itself as “Art”. For some people, yes, it might be a novel or a painting. But Art is just one path up the mountain, one of many. With others the path may be something more prosaic. Making a million dollars, raising a family, owning the most Burger King franchises in the Tri-State area, building some crazy oversized model airplane, the list has no end.
Whatever. Let’s talk about you now. Your mountain. Your private Mount Everest. Yes, that one. Exactly.

Let’s say you never climb it. Do you have a problem witb that? Can you just say to yourself, “Never mind, I never really wanted it anyway” and take up stamp collecting instead?

Well, you could try. But I wouldn’t believe you. I think it’s not OK for you never to try to climb it. And I think you agree with me. Otherwise you wouldn’t have read this far.

So it looks like you’re going to have to climb the frickin’ mountain. Deal with it.

My advice? You don’t need my advice. You really don’t. The biggest piece of advice I could give anyone would be this:

“Admit that your own private Mount Everest exists. That is half the battle.”
And you’ve already done that. You really have. Otherwise, again, you wouldn’t have read this far.
Rock on.

Posted by hugh macleod at July 29, 2004″

When I read that from his blog called “Gaping Void,” images of art and writing and friends went flicking through my brain, I sort of felt like bawling, and I also got a a little hit of adrenaline. As usual, everything quickly simmered through my intellectual circuits and faded into a soft focus trance. When I looked up a couple minutes later, I just wanted to go make tea and start painting and not look at that Mountain idea for a while.

What is my Mt Everest? And why does it feel like a fantastic invitation and also full of pressure all at once?  Zounds. Anyway, I hope I’m already on that climb. I keep trying to orient in that direction. (I feel a pull to start using descriptive words like compass and navigation to describe things, so I’m going to stop here and go back to painting).

Here’s a piece that has some interesting earlier stages, but I kept going anyway:






I turn 52 today. Its cloudy and gray and full of damp autumn in the air. I met my sweetest girlfriends for a gluten free pancake breakfast at an old Cafe that I worked at for 5 years while in graduate school~ a long time ago. Another year. Another leaf.


16 thoughts on “Your Calling, your Reason to Live, your Mt Everest

  1. I like the Mt Everest concept so much more than a bucket list idea. Focus on your one true passion. Love this post and your art ~ you are truly talented. Happy Birthday!

  2. Happy Birthday! I love the paintings here – they seem, uhm, different from the others I’ve seen, stronger is some ineffable way. Mountain strong, maybe. Your posts are always right on target for things I didn’t even know I needed/wanted to think about. A dear friend too soon gone always signed his letters this way: “Peace, love, courage.” That’s my birthday wish for you…

  3. Laurel, Just now discovered your “like” on my blog at 5 am, allowed me to enter your blog this morning. Connection… Joy! I believe we are sisters of the soul in some way. Art, psychology, sensitive female stomachs in their 50’s… Happy Birthday! Love you shared your unfolding painting with your writing. I get it. I could feel the deeper authenticity becoming visible. More to share.

  4. At risk of asking an artist too much: can you tell me what the text at the top right of this piece says? I loved watching the in-progress versions of the final one, but have driven myself crazy trying to correlate the juuuuuuust not-quite-legible text to the excerpt from HM’s journal!

    I do love this image per se, especially in its final form.

    [And P.S.: happy belated birthday. 🙂 ]

  5. Hi John, thank you for the bday wishes. Here’s the thing, I used to scribble into paint “the love you make is equal to the love you take the love you make is equal to the love to take” etc….but lately, during the last 10 paintings or so, I listen to podcasts (often Tim Ferriss), and will write out the words someone is speaking at the exact moment I go to scribble. So the words are very random. I see this: “frame fear before ideas and we make everyone love”. What do you see?

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