“Wherever I go, I meet myself.” – Tozan
When I was climbing Mt. Elbrus in the Caucasus Mountains in Russia about twenty years ago, the first stage of the ascent was to climb to the hut we stayed at until our summit attempts. At about 13,000 feet, it was a pretty rough shelter with nails that hadn’t been all the way hammered in, porch railings that didn’t go all the way around (see featured photo) and no exterior finish but it afforded us a good place to rest and try to summit the 18,510 feet peak.
The outhouse was just down a little path and set right on the edge of the ridge. That is to say, the hole in the floor opened directly onto a rock field. The placement was interesting and created some aerodynamic challenges. Anything light put down the hole would come right back up again.
This was discovered by the first climber from our group to go in there — a really funny, nice guy from California. He came back to the hut with his cheeks flushed, a little out of breath with a surprised look on his face. He announced, “I just spent 5 minutes dancing with my toilet paper.” At that altitude, any kind of dancing would take your breath away.
This always reminds me that, as the quote at the top of this post says, wherever we go we meet ourselves. Even when we are in the most scenic places, poised to accomplish some personal milestone, we still might have to dance with our toilet paper. If we’ve done our work, that can be more amusing than horrifying.
(featured photo is mine)