This morning I committed to climb Mt. Rainier next August with a close friend. At 14,410 feet above sea level, Mt. Rainier is the highest point in the Northwest, and a training ground for climbers who want to ascend Denali in Alaska, and Mt. Everest. Why commit ten+ months ahead? According to those in the know, I’d better show up for the climb “in the best shape of my life.”
Wait, I’m 64. Before I launch on the climb I’ll be 65 and eligible for — this rattles my cage — Medicare. The best shape of my life? At sixty-freaking-five? Hmm, is that even possible?
Well, I’m going to find out. Tomorrow morning I’ll head out on a 7-mile run, mostly uphill.
Okay, so it will feel like mostly uphill.
And that is just the beginning. Trail running, strength training, power hikes with a 40-pound pack — I’ll be pushing my body to be ready. Yeah, Mt. Rainier, I’ve got you in my sights. You are now a kedge.
Kedge? What’s a kedge? It’s origin is in the realm of sailing, but I’ll move on without a lot of explanation: a kedge is a goal that you put out there in the future to inspire you, like the proverbial dangling carrot. My kedge is tall. And massive. And will require that I be in the best shape of my life.
Oddly, this feels comforting to me. In the same way that writing a novel feels comforting. Both require commitment, perseverance, and a willingness to endure . . . well, okay, let’s be honest, it requires suffering. Climbing is not easy. Neither is writing a novel. I’ll just keep on keeping on — something I’m actually good at — until I reach the summit.