Many people will look back on 2016 as an annus horribilis. We’ve had Brexit, Trump and burkhini bans. Here in Italy we’ve experienced a number of earthquakes, with many dead and homeless. But all these things pale beside what is happening in Aleppo, Mosul, Yemen and north Nigeria. Worse may be to come: they say South Sudan is on the verge of genocide.
Most of us are cocooned from these things, but still we worry about them. Life is full of misfortune and contradiction, and I firmly believe that as long as you don’t turn away from life’s problems, there is nothing wrong with escaping them from time to time for your own sanity and peace of mind.
I have two main ways of doing this. The first is by escaping to the mountains, and the second is with comedy. When both of these things come together, I feel truly blessed.
So on this note, with my last post of 2016 I’m going to lighten your mood and fill you with hope for the future by sharing my all-time favourite YouTube video.
I first saw this little gem years ago, and it never fails to crack me up.
Something reminded me about it recently. I’ve been reading Life and Limb by Jamie Andrew, a book that can be found in the mountaineering category on Amazon. But it’s not really a book about mountaineering. It’s a book that charts the road to recovery after a life-changing injury. It’s a book about how you can turn despair into hope if you maintain a positive outlook.
In 1999 Jamie Andrew endured a six-day storm below the summit of an alpine peak near Chamonix. His companion froze to death. Jamie survived, but with frostbite so serious that he lost both hands and both feet.
He wondered if he would ever climb another mountain again, but within a year he was hill walking, and he was so comfortable with his new body that he rejected an invitation to have pioneering hand transplants.
A few months after he left hospital he was learning to walk again, and stumbling across a typical Scottish bog in Glencoe when his prosthetic leg sank into the mud and became stuck.
As I pitched forward my stump parted company with the leg, and I left it behind. With only one leg left, I had little chance of regaining my balance, and plunged headfirst into the muddy pool.
It took his girlfriend Anna fifteen minutes to drag him out of the mire, by which time both of them were black from head to foot (well Anna was, anyway).
It reminded me of this video. I hope you enjoy it as much as the cameraman, and I wish you the best for 2017.