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The Inertia

Reflections on this weekend’s tragedy in Nepal were brought to a visceral head today when I saw Jost Kobusch’s footage of the massive dry loose snow avalanche that hit the Basecamp on Everest Saturday. (So much so that even though we already included it in a comprehensive writeup of the weekend’s tragedy, we felt compelled to share it separately on its own.) The vulnerability of one of mountaineering’s most venerated and sought-after places to visit serves as a stark reminder of our own impermanence and the power of nature, especially in one of her most turmoiled locales, the Himalaya.

Among it all, I feel one of the most terrifying sensations I know: helplessness. This was not a predictable event; no one involved was knowingly putting their lives at risk to such an extent. And yet, it happened.

My hope is that, once all the dust settles and the victims are treated and the four damaged World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu are repaired, we can take this reminder of our impermanence on this Earth as inspiration. The truth that tragedies like this happen, that natural disasters can strike with such supreme apathy to human circumstance needs to drive us to dig more deeply into this life, to engage more fully and with more conviction. As traumatic and heartbreaking and despairing as it is, this is life; this is reality, and reality should inspire, not deject.

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