Put up or shut up

It could be a motto heard anytime in the changing room with hopeful Olympians and Paralympians during the 4 years leading up to the Games. Witnessing the daily performances in Sochi right now is mesmerizing, and not only for Team Canada. I used to hear it, worded differently, when training for competition, in gymnastics, dance, badminton, and more recently, in martial arts. Then I heard it again while at the VIMFF, blown away again by exceptional images and personal stories, the ones which make me reconsider some of my life choices, or at least, question them.

The logistics of the adventurers portrayed in the movies I got to watch is probably one of the most complicated ones to forecast and manage. Simply because most of them have become icons to the public eyes does not mean all this came overnight. Another interesting element to the personalities presented is that none of them has been or is looking for fame, whether in grief or glory. It is actually quite the opposite, and that alone resonates a lot.

Of course, a mountain film festival’s role is to inspire and entertain the community and to promote positive life values and an active lifestyle, and to bring various communities together. It does that, no question. From Laura Dekker‘s determination to not complain after she realised making her dream come true also included some not-so-fun moments, to what base jumper Karina Hollekim refers as a “universal story”, flirting with fear is only a minimal ingredient of how they have decided to live their lives: by going beyond it.

Their attitude is inspiring, to say the least: following their dreams, recovering from where they have taken them, composing with straight positive thinking to make it through. Their personal supply chain includes loads of moral and strength support: financially, yes, and not just that. Shane McConkey was another limit-pusher and pioneer in extreme sports. Whether his life and persona may still get romanticized, worshipped or criticised, what he accomplished was exceptional, and required both talent and meticulous preparation. The difference is that he neither shut up about, nor put up with others’ expectations: he just followed his heart, until it stopped beating (in the Dolomites in 2009).

Documentaries are usually a good reminder of reality, as well as our own mortality. If any of these can re-inject some hope and motivation into some spirits feeling down for any particular reason, then, please: go right ahead and find a way to watch one or two (as a minimum prescription). They are humbling, helping, aching, soothing, nerve-wracking, guiding, warming, annoying and fascinating. Opening up to the possibilities, managing all the suppliers of life: sounds pretty awesome!