The doctor at the hospital who had operated on me frowned severely: “You’re not to do anything dangerous with this cast on. If you bump the pins holding the wires in your hand, the situation will be disastrous.”
“I’ll just be walking, ” I quipped in as meek and subservient a voice as I could muster under the circumstances.
I wasn’t totally foolhardy: I had backed out of my planned six-day venture onto the southern ranges and exchanged it for a tamer three-day bash to Mt Sorell, but this had been cancelled due to flooding of a river we needed to cross. What was I to do? The thought of another weekend cooped up without a mountain was unendurable. I was craving a mountain with a need as strong as that of a growing plant for water, but with a broken hand, I would prefer the security of company. Then I noticed that Boots ‘n All were going up Stacks and Wilmot Bluffs, neither of which I’ve climbed. Perfect. I was ridiculously excited, like a prisoner released from gaol after a false conviction. At last my January mountain-drought was to finish.
As I boulder hopped and noted the drops below, I spared a thought for the poor anxious surgeon who would find my activity dangerous. “Dangerous” is a very relative term, but I could tell that that medico envisages it as absolute, and that he had acquired defining rights. I jumped over the next crack, landing with ease onto the waiting boulder and pondered the relativity of words like danger, safety, risk and health. At lunch we had had a talk about freedom and how we gain true freedom. Americans use this word a lot, and yet your freedom (to own a gun, for example) can mean my thraldom to death; one can be so obsessed with one kind of freedom that one becomes a slave to that notion and loses real freedom in the process – and so it is with safety. A timorous pursuit of safety can lead to a lifestyle that is unhealthy and, thereby, unsafe from a different perspective.
It was a grand day: glorious scenery, a fun climb and great company. I returned home physically and psychologically refreshed.