Column: Mountain Musings

On life and death

By Alistair Taylor

Welcome to the first Mountain Musings column, and hopefully not the last. Though one never knows.

One never knows when the lights are going to go out, and maybe that’s for the best.

There were a couple of fine letters to the editor in this newspaper last week which touched on the dangers of driving on highway 1. I often wish that drivers would heed the advice of Paul Simon, when he sang, “slow down, you move too fast”. What’s the hurry? As my Dad says, “I’d rather be Freddy Taylor, late, than the late Freddy Taylor”. Still accident-free at 79 years old.

Well, that’s not entirely true. There was the time he came over a humpback bridge, with the low winter sun in his eyes, and ran into the back of a parked truck. Lucky to survive that one. He had been thinking of his wife (my mother), who had just died at age 50, and perhaps full concentration wasn’t on the road, he admitted.

Life, and death. What better subject for the first column, eh?

Quite a few of my friends have died in the past year or so, all of them too young. Paul and I were just young sprogs when we started work at Loch Eil Outward Bound, in Scotland. Training week, May 1984, was sailing to Isle of Coll, and climbing in Skye. Great times and happy days. He died of cancer around Christmas, but was skiing in Alps until the last. Everyone loses friends and family, sooner or later. But they live on, in memory, at least.

I didn’t know Michael David Foster, who died skiing out of bounds at RMR last month, but all condolences to his family and friends.

Death is never easy, but life can be tough too.

“You’ll never know the hurt I suffered, nor the pain I rise above,

And I’ll never know the same about you, your holiness or your kind of love,

And it makes me feel so sorry”. (Bob Dylan)

Life is precious. We need to make the most of all the moments.

Be kind, be thoughtful, respect each other. Don’t be doing stupid stuff like overtaking on blind corners. Slow down.

“I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep

I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep

Let the morning time drop all it’s petals on me

Life, I love you, all is groovy”. (Paul Simon).

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