Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Walking the Edge

How's my mental health today?

I see my doc this afternoon. He'll probably ask, How are you doing? Or, How have you been doing?

They are questions I need to consider every day. If I want to keep some balance in my life, I've got to monitor my mental health. If I ignore it, I risk having things go offline, eventually (sometimes rapidly) getting out of control.

As a result I try to stay aware of my stressors and my stress levels. I know what causes me difficulty and what helps me stay grounded. Problem is, some of the things that create a problem for me are far more fun, invigorating, and often more rewarding than that which keeps me grounded.

Heidi and I have often talked about how I like to live on the edge. It reminds me of a time (many years ago) when a friend and I climbed up Mount Rundle in Banff, Alberta. Mountain climbers would say that we walked up the back of the mountain; we didn't work our way up the vertical walls of Mt Rundle. Whatever, there were more than enough heart-pounding moments for me.

If you're not familiar with Mt Rundle, it's a mountain ridge that is roughly 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) long, and 2948 meters ( 9672 ft.) high. (I googled it to get those details and learned there is now a hiking trail to the top - we didn't find a trail in 1975 - we just headed straight up the back). While the side we went up was a manageable slope, the other side of the ridge was a vertical drop for a greater distance than we wanted to check out. We were careful not to get too close to the ridge. It was windy up there and we had heard stories of people supposedly blown over the edge by the wind. They didn't survive. Whether the stories were true or not (I can't find any record of them) they were scary enough for us to be a little cautious up there.

Living on the edge is like that mountain top experience for me. My Mt Rundle experience was exhilarating, providing an incredible view of the Bow River valley on one side and so much more. It was scary too. Living on the edge energizes me, excites me, spurs me on and helps me feel engaged with the world around me. Staying safe, well back from the edge can quickly get very boring, it's mundane, I feel like I'm just going through the motions, and I lose my drive. Which would you choose?

Falling off the edge eventually lands me in a depression that sucks the life out of me. Living on the edge requires balance. I still haven't completely mastered the balancing act.
Not sure if I ever will.

Do I really want to? Hmmmm.

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