Forget the afterlife..make a difference here!

A contentious subject….what happens to us after we die, both in the physical and metaphysical sense.

I bring up this point as a person who has made a choice, a personal choice, to take part in an activity that could lead to the loss of my life. Yes, I know…it sounds terrible, doesn’t it? But it’s a fact.

Every year, there must be thousands of people all over the world who die due to taking part in just such hobbies as mine, namely hiking, climbing, etc.

That is a risk we have to take, albeit a calculated risk. Even crossing the road from one sidewalk to the other could quite easily result in death, so does that mean we don’t venture out of our houses? No, of course it doesn’t.

But what is really shocking is that well over 50% of the population still do not bother to become organ donors, if the worst case scenario were to happen.

Some say it is an insult to the dignity of the dead person if his/her organs are removed. Some say their religion does not allow it. Some just don’t know what it is, but they will not allow it.

Let’s take the religion thing first. There is not a shred of evidence anywhere, correct me if I am wrong, that removing organs from a dead person is taboo. Aside of the religious pundits, who BELIEVE there is a life after death, and that somehow leaving this life with a full set of organs isĀ  somehow a prerequisite of gaining a foothold in the afterlife, nobody has ever proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is afterlife. In my opinion, and I do hope I’m not upsetting anyone with my conjectures, these beliefs belong to the days of the Pharaohs and maybe even earlier. We are in the 21st century now and need to change with the times….a tree that doesn’t bend in the wind will break and die……

So why not donate your organs?

On the other hand, logically, if a person donates their organs after death, then he/she will give life, after death, to someone else. Isn’t that life after death? I believe it is.

And a friend of mine who is a physician, once told me that a total of NINE people can be given new lives, from the organs of just one donor.

Let’s think about that awhile…then make your decision.

 

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Always buy the best equipment you can afford….

I was just watching that film about the guy who fell down and trapped his arm in a rock fissure in Colorado whilst walking alone in the desert…guy called Aron Ralston.

If you look past the gory bits and the movie scenes, you can learn an awful lot from that film I think.

Like always letting everyone know where you’re going, when you’ll be back etc. That guy, in his self-assured manner, failed this first essential of going out walking, hiking or climbing in remote areas. So when he fell into trouble, nobody knew what had happened to him ro where.

The second very important point is to try and have a partner with you if at all possible. I’m afraid I must put up my hands here on this one, as I rarely have anyone with me; my reason, silly as it may seem to you, is that having someone with me somehow robs me of the solitude, the silence I am constantly seeking. The funny thing is, it is that silence and solitude that could, if things went wrong, work against me one day. having a partner can be of enormous help if you get into difficulties.

Thirdly, Aron didn’t have a cellphone with him. Much as I hate the relentless march of technology and how it continues to intrude into our daily lives, a cellphone is a virtual necessity these days, and if you are injured or stuck in dire circumstances during a hike or climbing session, a phone call can mean the difference between life and death. So always, always, always try and carry at least one working, fully charged cellphone. I know of friends who carry 2 cellphones with them, in case one fails.

Finally, regarding what happened with Aron in that rocky fissure. Because he was unlucky enough to get his arm trapped between a falling rock etc, he had no choice but to actually hack his own arm off….yes, you read right…he made the agonizing decision to cut his arm off, or face certain death within days.

And when it came to carrying out the grisly task, he used the only thing available, the knife in his multi-tool. that unfortunately proved to be of inferior quality and he had a lot of trouble cutting through his flesh, as he joked about his in a recording he made with his camcorder, “..always make sure the multi tool you buy is not Made in China!

The moral there of course is to buy equipment that has proven reliability and is durable. Again, talking about Aron….if his tool had broken up in use, and he had failed to sever his arm, he would not be alive today.

 

 

What are my hiking plans for the New Year?

Good question!

Today is the 28th December and we don’t have long to go before we see in the New Year, and all that it will bring.

So if you haven’t yet decided what your hiking plans are, myself included, well, we’d better get on with it and decide real quick.

Living in BC, I’m blessed with a wonderful choice of hiking; I can either choose to hike locally or strike out miles away from civilisation, as there so much land here. and most of it is uninhabited.

For the coming season, I think I’d like to go much further north, way up into the Yukon if I can, as my heart hankers for some lonesome walking, amongst snow and ice, rather than the forest and woodland I have been accustomed to.

Though it seems a nice thought, once you are in the true north, you have to be ultra careful, as help will be many, many miles away, if available at all.

And that will mean kitting myself out with as much fail-safe equipment as I can afford to carry.

As we all know, my kit will consist of those essentials that can mean the difference between survival or death, should the unforeseen happen. That means food, first aid, clothing/bedding, fire-starting equipment, cooking apparatus and anything else that I can think of.

I will be camping out in the open, so a good, solid, easily assembled/disassembled tent will be an absolute must.

Talking about camping in cold regions just reminded me about arrangements for a person’s, shall we say, daily ablutions? Normally, experienced hikers and walkers usually rely on a rough hole in the ground, which can be quickly filled in with soil etc when the job is finished. But in cold areas, where the ground is either frozen due to permafrost or is just too hard, digging holes in the ground can become laborious.

So what is the best way to take care of this very necessary task? Well, it all depends upon how long you are planning to stay in that particular site. Myself, if I know I’m going to be camped in one area for more than a week, I usually dig myself a proper “loo”, as it’s no fun sitting over a hole in the ground in the open air, with a cold, biting wind blowing all around your “undercarriage”, not to mention down your neck, too!

And believe it or not, there are certain rules you need to follow if your toilet in the open is to be properly managed. Again, depending upon the temperature, you will notice that after every visit, the waste products will freeze almost straight away. So what happens over time is that all your waste will tend to build itself into a very large icicle, albeit a rather very smelly one!

If you don’t manage it on a daily basis, that icicle will soon reach your nether regions and the only way to control it will be to chop it down to a smaller size with an axe or something. Of course, being what it is, that will inevitably leave small chunks of it on your clothing or hands, meaning as soon as you get back to your tent or shelter, all those chunks will melt, releasing an obvious, and very noxious smell, and one which you will never get out of your clothes until you get back home…to be avoided at all costs!

How do you construct the shelter around your loo? I’ve used whatever is close at hand. If in the woods, you can use a quick shelter made of twigs and branches, or if you are in very cold terrain, a shelter made of snow blocks is again very easy to construct.

What you should be doing daily, is to take a look down the hole and see how high the icicle has become….soon as it gets over 6 inches high, knock it down with a large stick or branch. That way, you can spend your time in your toilet in peace, knowing that once the time has come to move on, the hole can be filled in with snow or soil.

 

What if it all turns out like this….then what?

I read somewhere about a guy who had just come back from the brink of death, that is, he had an out-of-body experience as they say (OBE).

Now I have a very keen interest in this, as so far, nobody who has died has been reliably able to contact any living people to tell them what happens “over on the other side”.

I have reached the stage where I am beginning to doubt what the religions say about what happens when we die.

I think most of what religion says is a form of sooth-saying, for want of a better word. In other words, it offers us the possibility of a better life, everlasting or not after we die. I suppose it’s the ultimate form of balm for bereaved souls.

But this guy I read about, he says that what he saw when he had technically died, has led him to his present conclusions.

What he says is this; whatever we believe in, is exactly what we will see when we die. In other words, if we believe in a heaven (providing we have been good boys and girls whilst on earth!), we will see a heaven where we will live forever.

If we believe in a hell (and have been naughty boys and girls), we will see hell and get a privileged seat forever there.

If we believe in a god who came to earth as Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha etc, that is what we will see. If we are christians, we will see Jesus, if muslims we will see Mohammed and so on.

And he also has mentioned one other thing that he saw quite clearly; each of us have our own place to go after death. A christian will not find himself in a place where Hindus have gathered nor will a muslim find himself where christians have their place etc. So whatever our beliefs whilst we are living, is exactly what will be manifested before us after death.

So to me….that sounds like a game! Maybe, as I have postulated before here…maybe that’s all there is to it! It’s just dependant upon what we think and what we retain in our little heads at the instant of death.

Another quick story that comes to mind here…it’s from the Sikh faith…and serves to illustrate what we are talking about here.

It relates the story of an old ascetic, a holy man, lying outside on his bed, under the shade of an apple tree. The man is dying and is on his last few breaths…when his eye spots an beautiful apple, so red and luscious, on the tree. At that very moment, the man wishes if he could taste the thing and savour the sweet flavour. Whilst thinking so, he takes his final breath and dies. Immediately, his soul reaches the “other side”, wherever that is…and he his given the chance to savour his apple….as he reincarnates as a maggot in that very same apple!

True or not, it shows you what I mean.

I leave you with another thought…what if…just before dying, we think there is nothing after death..just quiet..then what?

Will we be met by nothing more than total silence…forever? In which case, all those hymns we heard as children or adults were a waste of time?

Is that the meaning of life?

 

Only on our deathbed, and only when we give up on living, we realize that everything we did was to comply with the imperatives of our ego.

Call it work, family, your children, reputation or social status.

It’s the script encoded in our DNA and that’s the script we follow blindly till the day we die.

We are fortunate to have that bit of conscience that allows us to acknowledge this a few minutes before we pass away.

No other animal has that privilege.