There’s a much loved book in our house called Face Dancing. It’s in memory of the young woman Rachael Farmer, who was the first British Woman to climb 8A.
Rachael died slipping from a steep walkway at Buoux, a famous climbing venue in France. She was only 23.
I didn’t know Rachael, only the author Neil Gresham. But I have known and lost many friends in the climbing world. People who’s lights shone equally brightly.
Love Life, A Climber’s Attitude To Risk
Face Dancing includes one of my favourite poems “Risks”. It was oft quoted by Leo F Buscaglia. It’s a poem that could have been written for climbers, but it applies to outdoor lovers and life in general. An academic at the University of Southern California, Buscaglia was moved to write about life and love after a student’s suicide.
To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,Anonymous
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.”
As a mountain climber, the appeal is strong and obvious. I can’t justify the risks I take. Saying, if I don’t take risks I’m not living, leaves me free to selfishly pursue my dreams.
Is this such a bad thing?
The world can learn from climbers. The climbing community will never judge you on color or creed. It’s a true meritocracy.
It’s a community touched by free spirits who inspire and uplift. Where the impossible is possible. Where life isn’t constrained by imagined boundaries or limited by unchallenged thoughts and beliefs.
I’m not saying the world would be a better place if everyone risked life and limb clinging to rock faces. But embracing risk can be the difference between a living a life locked in the pettiness and hatred of frustration, or breaking free and creating a life you really want to live.
Love Life, Living Life To The Full
You see so many people wasting their lives. People who are stuck. Unhappy with their life choices but not willing to try and change. To take a risk.
They’d rather sit on the couch and let the world go by. Often putting off living because they’re afraid. Believing they can’t even try and follow their dreams because they’re not good enough. Not perfect.
Sometimes it’s just the people you surround yourself with who are dragging you down. Friends who won’t try anything new. They don’t want to leave their comfort zone so why should you…
If you don’t like the scene you’re in, if you’re unhappy, if you’re lonely, if you don’t feel that things are happening, change your scene. Paint a new backdrop.Leo F. Buscaglia
It may be a simplistic view of the world. That you can just up and leave your situation. But it sometimes you can make small changes, take small steps.
Take up a new activity or sport. Join a club. Increase your circle of friends. Minor changes maybe, but one small change can lead to another.
The changes add up and then you look back a few years later to realise your life has changed completely.
The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don’t let them put you in that position.Leo F. Buscaglia
I’m afraid Face Dancing is no longer available (and sorry my own copy is not for sale), but you can still purchase Buscaglia’s books and the words resonate just as much today.
I know not everyone wants to live a life of a climber but taking a few risks, stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new experiences is the essence of live. I hope you’ll agree.