Prashant's Weblog
Random Brain "Droppings" of yet another software engineer

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Whats the big deal climing a hill which is taller than all others??

Its was on 29 May 1953, amid most inclement and in-human environment conditions, two people, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, dragged themselves to a point where heavens seemed just a hand-stretch away. They were the first to climb to the highest point on this planet, peak of Mount Everest, standing tall at 29,029 feet. By doing so little did they know that they would become the icons who would inspire the spirit of Adventure for generations to come.

Today after almost 6 decades, both the icons are no more with us. The unsung hero of that epic journey, Sherpa Tenzing, expired in 1986 and on Friday(11 Jan 2008), with the arrival of the sad news of Sir Edmund Hillary's death a chapter came to an end, a chapter that tells stories of real heroes who represented the indomitable human spirit.

So what the heck is the big deal about climbing to the highest point on this earth? Why is an act which did not help any cause continues to inspires and is still remembered? Why two people who were just normal people before accomplishing this climb, were catapulted to iconic status after this act?

Jane Morris of Time in a brilliant article titled "The Conquerors" says
Geography was not furthered by the achievement, scientific progress was scarcely hastened, and nothing new was discovered. Yet the names of Hillary and Tenzing went instantly into all languages as the names of heroes, partly because they really were men of heroic mold but chiefly because they represented so compellingly the spirit of their time

represented so compellingly the spirit of their time
.....thats exactly what they did. They showed the world how even people with ordinary abilities but extraordinary perseverance can reach stellar heights.

Jane in another part of her article says;
it was a measure of the men that over the years they truly grew into the condition. Perhaps they thought that just being the first to climb a hill was hardly qualification for immortality; perhaps they instinctively realized destiny had another place for them. For they both became, in the course of time, representatives not merely of their particular nations but of half of humanity. Astronauts might justly claim that they were envoys of all humanity; Hillary and Tenzing, in a less spectacular kind, came to stand for the small nations of the world, the young ones, the tucked-away and the up-and-coming

This is probably the reason which makes them heroes and so eligible to become your role models. When you speak of Hillary and Tenzing, its not about the name and fame(which they achieved after the climb), both of which they had in abundance, but its what they did with that name and fame.. both used it to stand-up for people who were less fortunate than themselves and to me this is truly the measure of man. Hillary and Tenzing spent rest of their lifetime working towards environmental causes and conjure humanitarian efforts on behalf of Nepal and the Nepalese people. The spirit of this selfless service to a country which consumed almost his everything is something to commend on.

So I guess climbing a hill which is taller than all others is indeed a big deal because once in a while it leads to discovery of man like Hillary or Tenzing, a man to match his mountain.

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