Plan – what plan?Manley Hopkinson
Our news media is crammed with chattering about Brexit, Scottish Independence and other potential referendums or elections. There is so much advice freely given, demands expressed with outrage, clarion calls centred on self-interest, details wanted before we have even begun and assurances expected that can never be given unilaterally. “What’s the plan?” we hear from politicians, reporters, analysts, experts and commentators “What’s the plan?, What’s the plan?, What’s the plan?”
I reflect on a recent experience I shared with some good chums deep in the Monashee mountains of British Columbia, Canada
We were staying at Sol Mountain Lodge. Heaven on earth. An inspirational place owned and run by one super laid back dude Aaron Cooperman and his team of extra-ordinary guides. And what a team they are – the epitome of “relaxed excellence” that can only come from being hugely aware and at one with who you are and where you are.
With 3.8m of exquisite light powder snow, no tracks, no vehicles, no way in or out in winter, aside from by helicopter and surrounded by millions of hectares of mountain, forest, lakes and wilderness. Our only companions being unseen pine martens only present by their tracks in the snow and deeply hidden hibernating bears. No noise, no machines, no distractions.
Life in the mountains was simple. We woke early with the sun, broke our fast with a lovingly prepared breakfast of fruit, home baked granola and eggs, packed water, a light lunch, some freshly baked cookies to return some nine exhilarating and action packed hours later.
With “skins” on our skis, we trekked high up into a nearby mountain then threw ourselves down impossible slopes with hidden dips and jumps with deep “tree pits” to trap the careless, but always under the watchful eye of Aaron and his team. As you skin up you have time to reflect. You fall in to a meditative state with moments of clarity punctuating blissful states of being so “in the zone” that before you know, you peak. As you descend you only have time to react. Don’t think too hard. Relax, don’t fight the mountain. Let it flow! You arrive at the bottom, giggling, covered in powder with a stupid grin on your face.
Whilst packing my skins away at the top of a crazy tree filled slope, I innocently asked Aaron “What’s the plan?” Aaron, in his beautifully laconic and relaxed manner, just looked at me, smiled and with a playful resonance retorts gently “Plan? Plan! Hey man, you don’t come into the mountains with plans. No way man. You think you can plan the mountain? No man. We don’t have plans in the mountains … just ideas” Drawing out each ounce of possibility from the word “ideas” with a mad grin, wild eyes and the long Canadian drawl.
An idea of what you want to achieve. An idea of the outcome. An idea of the possibilities. An idea of the capabilities of the team with you. You cannot enter this beautifully savage terrain with a hard and fast intransigent plan; that will only lead to trouble. You need to be able to respond to what is in front of you, to the unexpected, to what is not under your control. And, let’s face it, the only thing really in your control is your reaction!
Sticking to a plan that can only be made in ignorance is the sure way to pain. But striving toward a dream, an idea, an ideal and being able to adapt and change in accordance to the terrain you find yourself in on your ever-changing journey, is the only way you will survive the journey and reach that goal.
As we look down the slopes of Mount Brexit and consider the myriad of possibilities, tree-pits and sleeping bears, perhaps we all ought to get back into our boxes, stop demanding plans and giving advice, but instead let’s align to an Idea and put all our collective effort to complete the journey true to that ideal. And let’s get to where to get to with a big grin, stories to tell, congratulate each other on the effort and accomplishment, celebrate and get ready for the next big climb.