Climbers and Riders

Different pain is tough in different ways, but any way you slice it, pain is difficult to endure – that’s why it’s called “pain.”

Most people go to significant lengths to avoid pain. From playing games in relationships to getting lost in escapes, to avoiding the type of intimacy that can force us to go well beyond platitudes and surface philosophies, the reality is: We all have our own unique ways to avoid pain. It’s ancient wisdom to understand that we tend to do whatever it takes to maximize pleasure and avoid pain; it’s also not a new concept to understand that most people would rather take a helicopter ride to the top of the mountain to convince themselves they’re getting the same view as those who did the work every day to climb the mountain. 

In the end, it doesn’t matter what pain we feel or what we experience—at least it doesn’t matter to others, because the only thing that really matters to others is the same thing that matters to us: how to maximize pleasure and avoid pain. Going inward hasn’t likely gone the way of the dodo, however, because it’s still very possible to do – and the truth is that people of every age have likely done whatever they can to avoid it – and some (although not many) have had the courage to go through what they need to in order to face it. In today’s world, people are quick to say the type of non-attachment sayings that are cool and en vogue; but few actually practice those sayings. Few actually climb the mountain. 

It’s hard for people who climb the mountain to connect with those who take helicopter rides up there, because there is an indescribable difference between both paths, and those who ride in the helicopter simply cannot see that difference, because they truly believe they’re seeing the same sight. 

Taking short-cuts is nothing new. Avoiding pain is nothing new. We all do what we do for whatever reasons we do; but in the end, the harsh reality is that only those who climb the mountain can truly connect with themselves and others. The helicopter riders can really only connect with the other helicopter riders – and even though they will no doubt espouse the same philosophy on paper as the climbers (and do what it takes to convince themselves that they are seeing the same thing) – in the end, ultimately, regardless of what riders say or how they try to convince themselves, each other and the world, if people haven’t climbed the mountain, they simply haven’t climbed.