Priorities versus momentum

When I was a teenager, I remember walking down the street after an event with a provincial politician who had summited Mount Everest.

Getting to speak casually for a few moments, I decided to ask him about what it had been like to reach the summit.

He spoke of the initial thrill but then admitted that it had been terrible to lose this goal in life by having accomplished it. He didn’t really know what to do with himself next.

“So then what did you do?” I asked him.

“I did it again,” he told me prosaically. “I became the first Canadian to double summit Everest.”

My admiration for him was tempered by my sensitivity to this restlessness he expressed, and I never forgot this story.

This evening a friend of mine spoke about how, for many, the pandemic became an opportunity to discern priorities rather than simply living in the momentum. I found this a quite astute way of putting it.

Momentum is concerned with motion and priorities are concerned with what is prior, primary, or fundamental.

Upon reflection, we might ask ourselves: Why is the momentum of my life a priority? Or, in our own particular variation on the theme: why am I trying to double summit Mount Everest, after all?

This matters because when we die, we lose the momentum of our lives but, if we are wise, not the priorities toward which our momentum was driven.

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