I Want vs I Have

alex honnold

The other night I watched the documentary “Mountain” on Netflix upon a recommendation and enjoyed every second of it. The surreal shots of majestic mountains, the adventure athletes accomplishing inhumane feats, and the moving music of the Australian orchestra to accompany the visual masterpiece. Incredible film. 

One portion of the film showed clips of extreme rock climbers. These people were on smooth rock faces hundreds of feet in the air. Placing their toes on the tiniest cracks in the rock and balancing themselves with their chalked-up hands on the slab of granite in front of them. One slip and they were done. One wrong breathe and they were done. These people were putting it all on the line. Their entire selves.

What a risk. Those rock climbers risked their whole existence. Their whole lives. You can’t risk any more than that.

The line the narrator spoke that struck me was:

Risks are often taken the most by those who have the least.

What an insightful observation.

A risk implies a chance of loss. If we have a lot to lose then we are less likely to take a risk because we may lose everything we possess. So why risk it?

If we have the least then we are more likely to take a risk because we don’t have much to lose, if anything.

However, from the perspective of the person with the least, the idea of risk gets flipped on its head. Risk no longer centers itself upon the question: what will I lose? Instead, it centers itself upon the question: what will I gain?

I think that those who have the least not only have less to lose, but also more to receive. They are not attached to their many possessions because they are in a state of lacking, hungering, wanting. Therefore, they are in a state ready to receive. They risk everything because they know that is the only true way they could ever receive anything.

Someone who recognizes their poverty as a human being allows themselves to fully receive what life wants to offer them.

Those rock climbers are on to something. In a way they risk their entire existence to receive it. They put themselves out there not because they have a lot to lose, but because they know they have everything to gain.


At the heart of not taking a risk is the fear of loss. What am I afraid of losing? However, at the heart of not taking a risk may also be the fear of receiving. What am I afraid of receiving?

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