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“I wrote my will at the North Pole. I figured that it wouldn’t be too strange if I died there. Ice can flow 30 kilometers in one night, and bears can sneak up on you. At times I felt as powerless as a small bird with its legs pulled off. I could hardly move under my own power. All I could do was pray. Out there, I realize how weak I was. Three times I was defeated by nature trying to reach the Pole. I went feeling too sure of myself, and going to the North Pole with the attitude that “I can take on anything” is dangerous. I was lucky to only lose some fingers and toes. Others have died. When you fail three times , no matter how stupid you are, you realize that fear, humility and gratitude are important. After finally figuring that out, I was able to successfully complete my solo trek on the fourth attempt. “If I were to express in a few words what adventure has given me, it would be the simple realization of how wonderful it is just to be alive. I have learned how precious life is, and how fleeting.” Rarely do we discuss hanging up our boots, let alone celebrate it. We write hagiographies of adventurers who continue on the ragged edge until they can barely walk or see, and ignore those who turn away from the life that made their name. We stand awestruck and praise the men and women give devote their whole being to the pursuit of one strand of adventure–the lifelong climber, the hall of fame skier–as if only the purest metals are important, not the blended alloys. Because to walk away seems like a repudiation, when it simply might be time to do something else. Ohba provides a counterpoint to that that’s well worth consideration.
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