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Is it about the destination or the journey?

In 1996 eight people died on the summit of Everest in 24 hours. Although deaths on everest do occur this event was notable, not only for the number of people who died, but because it seemed inexplicable. The weather conditions were normal and there were no sudden avalanches. Three teams of climbers were attempting to reach the summit, 34 climbers in all. For various reasons on that day, at a point known as Hillary's Step there was, essentially, a traffic jam. 

When attempting to reach the summit of Everest, timing is crucial. There's a window of time, know as 'turnaround time' where if the climbers haven't reached the summit by this point they should call off the attempt and turn back. 

Yet on that day in May 1996, as the teams were confronted with the traffic jam at Hillary's step, they ignored their turnaround times and pushed on.  Some of the climbers were caught in an intense blizzard as darkness fell and never made it back down the mountain. The general consensus is that nobody really knows why this happened.

Psychologist Christopher Kayes has a theory. He thinks the climbers were too focused on their goal. The more they focused on the goal, the more it became a part of their identities and therefore it became difficult to sacrifice that goal. 

The Sounds of the City, Part Three

On Spandrella

I don’t know exactly when I started referring to the subway as The Cattle Cars in my head, a characterization that evolved in spite of myself and against my will, since all my previous associations with people and cattle cars have genocidal overtones. It was sometime after I stopped going into mosh pits because they felt too much like crowded trains. After I moved to Brooklyn and started spending upwards of two hours a day on the trains, pressed against people who were pretending I wasn’t there. Or, a couple times, people who were far too aware that I was there, and that I have desirable body parts. You tell yourself you’ll never put up with that shit if it happens to you. And then it happens, and the train’s so crowded you can’t tell who it is, and you’re already late to work, and you don’t want to be the crazy weirdness that all the New Yorkers watch without watching. So you shut up. Your stop is only three away. Deal with it. Ignore. Evacuate.

Late at night in Union Square station. On the upper level, a busker is playing bagpipes, an instrument not designed with low ceilings and tiled walls in mind. Every time he finishes a song, the air fills with angry shouts from the homeless men who are trying to sleep.

Even one level down, at the other end of the platform, with my music turned all the way up, I can still hear them.

In a city of eight million people, I’m the most alone I’ve ever been. I don’t really know anybody here, I don’t have any roommates, and at the mixers and get-to-know-yous and bar hours that my school’s student life organizers put together, I mill around on the edges for an hour or so before leaving without successfully talking to anyone. Sometimes it feels like days go by without me saying anything, without speaking at all. I start to listen to more Fresh Air and This American Life than is strictly necessary for anybody.[1] Ira Glass is the closest thing I have to company. I realize that if something happens to me, it could be days, maybe weeks, before anyone at home really got worried. I start to wonder if the people on the subway aren’t just ignoring me. Maybe I really am invisible. Maybe I’m not really here.

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