For as long as we’ve known men have traveled into the mountain. In biblical stories men disappeared into the mountain to commune with gods. Some men returned. Some did not. Because not all men returned we cannot assume that all men were changed by the mountain. What we do know is that each man that returned had changed. Where doubt and fear once abode, courage and wisdom blossomed; weakness replaced with strength; shadows with light.
Why have men gone into the mountains? Some would immediately say that they went because the mountain was there. The biblical would say it was to commune with God. The explorer would say that the mountain must be conquered. There is one other however. He’s been addressed objectively before. But who would call it what it is? Some would excuse it for a borderline psychological condition.
Our first three men, the prophet, the explorer, and the ‘because it was there’ are men who return. This much we know. The prophet returned with words of enlightenment from On High (literally), the explorer returned with stories of the conquest, and ‘because it was there’ barely returned with their lives. All were different men when they returned.
This other man, this fourth character that doesn’t want to return and won’t, where does he fit in? And where does he go? And what shall we call this one?
Is it possible to categorize them amongst the others? No. These don’t return. What reason takes them into the mountain? What do they find? Why does it seem that they come from nowhere and pass you on their way into the mountain forever? In their passing we take notice of them and wonder. Anxious to hear what they have experienced we wait for their return. Because all men return from the mountain, don’t they? All men who return from the mountain have experienced some enlightenment to share..
No. Not this one.
Trouble with exploring the man who never returns from the mountain is that we can’t interview him. We can’t sit them down over a coffee and ask them about their experience and what took them into the hills. We can’t ask why they never came back, face to face, because that just isn’t realistic.
We can postulate that they might be crazy or hearing voices. We can blame society for pushing out another soul who just didn’t quite fit in. We can say that the mountain changed him. We can say many things but in doing so we insult the man. What do we know? Can we postulate that he was vulnerable to the scheme that is society? Can we postulate that he didn’t belong? We cannot. Because we do not understand. Nor can we pretend that we do. We cannot insult this man by making assumptions that an external force drove him and his experiences into the hills.
In a world conquered by the noble and the brave we only hear of conquest and exhibition. The stories that come forth pour from the lips of the pronounced, from the famous, the glamorous, the athlete, and so on. The world is primed to hear from these. Is the world ready to hear the stories of the men in the mountain? Can we even begin to hope?