Post 12: Lessons to Grandson

Lesson 1:

Put God first and everything else in life will have balance. I tell everyone, if you don’t believe in God… climb a mountain.  Faith is as essential to getting to the top as any climbing gear you carry. The top of a mountain is one of the holiest places that I have ever been to.

Lesson 2:

Climb a mountain… Literally or not, just challenge yourself. Look to be the best person you can be. Strive for excellence in everything you do. Complacency and mediocrity will keep you from reaching the summit.

Lesson 3:  

Beware of potato cellars! We lost one of the members of our climbing team due to a freak accident.  A door in the floor of the tea house was left open and she fell 8 feet into the potato cellar. So my lesson is, your life will not not be judged by how many potato cellars you fall into but how you dust yourself off, get out and keep moving.

Lesson 4:

Don’t stick to the same yak trail as everyone else. Make your own route, even though it may be more difficult. Life is about the journey, not the destination.  We may never reach our destination so don’t miss out on the journey and what you may learn from a different path.

Lesson 5:

Finally a baby!   Advice to the first: You are the first born grandchild. Being the first comes with great responsibility, as was with your mom being first of 23 grandkids and first of 4 siblings. Your role is to set a good example to siblings, cousins and family that will come after you. It’s not something you have chosen, and you should look at it as a blessing, not a burden. My greatest fear above all is letting my family down.  Making good decisions and placing their needs above your own are the two biggest pieces of advice I can offer. If you do this you will earn the love and respect from all. Glad you’re finally here and you and your mom are happy and healthy.

Grandpa ??? Still thinking about what I want to be called but will not take as long as your parents are taking to give you a name.

Lesson 6:

We lost another team member. Bernard was the oldest member of the team at 73 now leaving me with that title. Finally my grandchild has a name: Ford White DiMeola. I told Bernard about writing my lessons to grandchild and asked him if he could pass along some of his wisdom. His response:

Don’t let anyone tell you what your limits are.  Until you push yourself you will never know, and everyone’s expectations will leave you short of your maximum potential. My Everest is 5500 meters and I found this on my own without anyone telling me I can’t.

Lesson 7:

I didn’t secure my crampons to my pack. One fell out and I had to turn around at the base of the Ice falls returning to Basecamp.

Own your mistakes, don’t hide them. Sometimes they are embarrassing and make you feel stupid, but if you don’t accept and identify a mistake, you will not learn from them, and you’re sure to repeat it. The lesson will be lost. Embrace your mistakes as opportunities for growth. You don’t want to go through life with one crampon.

Lesson 8:  

I fell into a crevasse today. Don’t look down at how deep the crevasse is but measure how far you need to jump to get to the other side. Take chances, Your mom and grandma are going to shoot me, but you can’t grow if you don’t challenge yourself, and growth is a requirement for your well being. If you’re not growing, you’re slowly dying.  Risk makes you feel more alive and puts you in a state where you feel and perform at your highest level. You become absorbed in what you’re doing and live in the moment. When you do things that involve high risk, and high probability of failure, you’re forced to create, innovate and find a way to win. Don’t play it safe. Most people play life safe and easy. The goals they pursue are logical. There is little element of risk and little requirement for faith. Do things that make you feel alive and take the failures and the successes as a road map of your journey.

Lesson 9:

Leave your footprints where they will last forever. Hillary was know for climbing Everest and his mountaineering skills. After his summit, he and his family used their fame to raise money and build schools and hospitals that will leave longer lasting footprints than any steps left in the snow on the top of a mountain. The Hillary foundation supports schools and hospitals in the Khumba Valley even to this day.

Lesson 10:

Be Humble, I have made it to the top of the highest point in the world and I still have problems telling people I climbed Mt Everest.  Maybe it’s because I may have stood on top but there were so many people that got me there and for me to take the credit for everyone who helped feels wrong.  So where do I start? Who is responsible for my success? Is it family, co-workers, trainers, AC, climb leaders, sherpas, good weather window or health? If any of these went wrong I would have spent 2 months again without reaching the top.  It would have been seen by me as a failure and would have been my last shot at Everest and something that I would have had to learn to live with. The lesson here is to be humble. You will climb as high as the people around you lift you. When you think you’re doing this by yourself is when you forget about the people that got you there. Even Hillary had a team that got him to the top.  If you’re foolish or get blinded by success and forget the people around you, you will learn that you don’t walk this life alone and from time to time we all need help. Be humble, acknowledge and identify the reason for your success and you will be sure to repeat it.

Lesson 11:  

“Pursue happiness”, Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence.  When asked by Adams and Franklin why he chose the words, he told them we have no right to happiness, but the freedom to pursue happiness.  

Mountains make me happy and I have been chasing them for the last several years. My wish for my grandkids is to find their own mountains.  Do not wait, the future value of time is far less than the present value. Yet people defer happiness to someday in the future. In doing so they don’t live in the moment and miss happiness that happens every day.

Don’t let anyone define happiness for you. Many people don’t understand what I see in climbing or how it can make anyone happy.   It is cold, little oxygen, a long way from home, expensive and dangerous. No two humans are alike, so why should we have one definition of happiness? We must define what makes us happy.  If not, society will do it for us and we will always fall short.

This is a list of lessons to my grandkid that has been a result of 2 months on Mount Everest and a guilty reaction to missing my first grandchild’s birth.  I started this before Ford was born, and I hope the lessons will continue until I am gone.



This Post Has One Comment

  1. Beautiful and inspiring! Thanks for following your dreams and sharing a bit of the closest place to heaven on Earth with others. I know Jade is SO proud of you and Ford is also so lucky to have your lessons to guide him. You are his first Sherpa!

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