In a great video called Never Stop, sponsored by The North Face, Jimmy Chin ponders the meaning of life. Jimmy Chin is an excellent skier, climber and photographer. Somehow Chin caught the skiing and climbing bug despite growing up in Mankato, MN and attending Carleton College in Northfield, MN. I also went to Carleton and can attest to the lack of any hills or mountains in Minnesota.
Now Chin is a North Face sponsored athlete who among many other accomplishments has climbed to the top of Everest and then skied down. You read that right. He has had photos published in Outside Magazine and National Geographic and also recently produced, directed, shot and starred in a stunning film called Meru, about his climb with two friends to the top of a foreboding peak in the Karakoram mountains between India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China. This film won the U.S. Documentary Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and is definitely worth watching.
So what does Jimmy Chin think about the meaning of life:
“I guess I have always been driven to see what happens if I really throw myself at something. I learned early on that unless you really do that you will never find out. And, I think that would be really sad if I didn’t ever find my true potential. In a way, this is almost like the meaning of life. Finding a purpose and then pushing yourself in that space no matter what it is.”
“There are two great risks in life: risking too much and risking too little. The one that scares me the most is risking too little because you are given this great opportunity and you should make the post of it.”
This sounds a lot like the Ancient Greek concept of Arete. According to Wikipedia, “Arete is frequently associated with bravery, but more often with effectiveness. The man or woman of Arete is a person of the highest effectiveness; they use all their faculties—strength, bravery and wit—to achieve real results” or perhaps we could call it reaching their potential.
Are you reaching your potential? Are you throwing yourself at anything? Are you risking too much or too little?