Conrad Anker and the Power of Positivity

On a flight back to his home in Bozeman, Montana, Conrad Anker found himself sitting near Senator Lindsey Graham, whose total embrace of Trumpism should have all of us concerned. For whatever reason, the situation inspired Anker to write down some thoughts, which he just shared as an Instagram post. We found it to be a powerful message, and one worth amplifying in the days leading up to the most consequential election of our lives. If you don’t already, make sure you follow Anker on Instagram. And above all, be sure to VOTE.

I was once young and in need of sustenance, guidance, and knowledge. Hopefully, we will be old and dependent upon others for our well-being, purpose, and respect. No matter where we are in this timeline of life we have the opportunity to be positive. I aim to leave this wonderful planet that we share in a manner that offers hope for future generations.

As a kid born in 1962, the moon landing and the Vietnam War were the events that shaped my view. One was about teamwork: “Let’s do cool stuff and nerd out.” The other was a quarrel that, to a young mind, made no sense.

My mother was born near Dresden at the onset of the Third Reich. The destruction, pain, and death she had experienced by age 13 when the war ended shaped her view. My mother is still the dearest person in my life. As loving as she was, she forbade me and my buddies from playing war. Death was not a joking matter. It was one of her rules. This also shaped my worldview.

Which brings us back to where we are right now.

In the 10 years since social media has taken off, we have seen the connectivity and community that digital platforms such as Instagram have enabled. Seeing what my friends are up to inspires me to work out, travel, and explore. I’m also thankful for the diverse range of knowledge that is shared. We have also seen loneliness, commercialism, bullying, malicious intent, and deceit invade an outlet that I inherently see as a positive force in society.

The decency, kindness, courage, respect, generosity, equality and innovation that are part of the ethos of being a citizen of the United States are very much how I see my self in the world. These values define me and are my star of guidance.

When the leader of the United States veers from these values to a degree that is unprecedented in my short life, it is my duty and responsibility to speak up. By turning my head and getting lost in the comforts of life, I’m ignoring the storm on the horizon. I’m taking my brake hand off of the rope. And the last thing I want to do is drop you.

I stand for my fellow humans, regardless of origin or station in life. It is my hope that people will have the food, clothing, and shelter to live with a degree of dignity. Being who I am and doing what I do I’m very aware of the privilege I was born into. Rather than hoard it for more, it is my foundational belief to use my life as a lever to increase the well-being of humanity and leave this planet healthier. It’s a big goal, yet what is life? It’s finding a challenge and giving it your best.

As an athlete my voice carries. This responsibility and opportunity is part of my decision making. I’m with the leaders in basketball, baseball, and football who have been forthright with their views. Respect.

The voices of marginalized and oppressed people are relatively minuscule. For the animals, plants, and planet there is no voice. For them, I speak out, too. This is the small lever I have to make this world a better place.

Climbing is an international language. The act of belaying is a form of communication that is based on trust. “I’ve got your back.” “You’re on belay”. “You got this.” It’s the foundation of our sport, community, and life.

In this increasingly polarized world, I find it easier and healthier to be positive. One never knows what the person one interacts with has been through. A smile costs nothing. It brings happiness to everyone in the conversation. What’s not to like about that?

Please know that you, the person reading this, the person giving your time and insight to this form of communication is appreciated. It’s humbling the number of you that follow my life and interests.

If you follow me on social media and know my life story, you’ll hopefully accept who I am. Maybe a few of you might be motivated by the experiences I have had and understand how they shape my worldview. Life is way too short. Too many of my peers, in age and passion, have lost their lives to accidents and disease. If I’m left with anything, after sorrow transforms, is that every day is something to celebrate. And every day is one more chance to give life back to the community that sustains us. Our children and elderly deserve our love and respect.