I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.
— Walt Whitman, I Sing the Body Electric
Beliefs are polarizing. When we came up with the idea for the Holy Issue, choosing subjects to feature was easy. There are more than enough believers within mountain culture. I just don’t happen to be one of them. I’m not religious, spiritual or a mystic. I don’t believe in a single one of the infinite number of gods said to rule my world, nor do I subscribe to the vague, agnostic idea of a universal governing power like “The Force.” Star signs, numerology, tarot cards, ghosts, angels, creationism: it’s all fiction to me. God, I’m not a big believer.
I do believe some things to be paramount. Joy is divine.
Curiosity is sacred. Adventure is hallowed. Love is everything. More than singular entities, a life full of these elements — one mortal, earthly life — is holy. Because this life is finite. It ends. This is the one thing we can all agree on. Even if you believe you’re eventually going up to a spirit in the sky, your life on this glorious pale blue dot is almost over. And, damn, does it ever deserve to be given a workout before it extinguishes. Make the most of it, not in the clichéd tote-bag slogan sense of the phrase, but in very real ways: loved ones you can hug, vistas you can witness, the ecstasy of being in high and wild places.
Without walls or dogma, wild locales give us licence to explore the outside environment as well as our inner selves. What we find inside there may resemble god, and it might as easily be beautifully unexplainable. Not knowing certain things seems okay, as long as we’re moving together towards true knowledge, love and empathy. The good news is, we almost always are.
Believe it or not, but we’re pretty holy on our own, Man.
Photo by Marcus Paladino