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realitycheck44

Sleeping On The Edge

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Sleeping On The Edge

He edged his way over the sharp ridge, struggled over it… and was free. The crust of the snow broke when he stepped. He sunk in waist deep. Surprised, he looked around. What was happening? It took every ounce of strength left in his tired body to pull himself out, sucking at air as though he was drowning. He took another step. He sunk in again. Why was this happening? Thinking was too much of an effort. The next step was a challenge he would surely fail. The step after: inconceivable. The hard part was over. He needed to cross the snowfield. He needed a place to camp. The snowfield was flat. This was important. He set down his pack. The snowfield was flat. When was the last time he ate? He couldn’t remember. It didn’t matter. He needed a place to camp. The snowfield was flat… he would have to build a wall. What was happening? Finally, it hit him. He needed his oxygen mask.

With his glorious oxygen mask on, he clearly and quickly assessed the situation. The blue slope he just scaled constituted the hardest section of the entire climb. He checked his multifunctional watch. It told him he went two miles and gained over six thousand vertical feet in eight hours. Except for two ice pitons he could not remove, his gear remained intact; it had held up perfectly. The miraculous equipment kept him completely safe nearly all of the time. Gazing over the mountains, he took a second to reflect on the day and eat a rock-hard power bar. The Arctic moonrise was in full flight, turning the brilliantly white snow a pale golden color. It was amazing. Civilization has advanced so far for him to do this as a living. His wasn’t all that different from any other career: like the rest of us, his intelligence understood and exploited technology to conquer and tame nature. The smell of cold permeated his sinuses and burned his lungs when he inhaled. He had better get to work before the snow falling in the distance moved his direction.

Removing his ultralight crampons enabled him to walk around atop the snow nearly effortlessly. He took off the shovel and unzipped the front part of his Gregory pack to withdraw a metallic blue down parka. His thin waterproof shell came off to reveal a bright polar fleece, the kind that actually merits the use of the word “polar” before fleece, and donned the heavy parka. It always amazed him that the textile industry had advanced far enough that it took only 51 ounces of material to keep him warm in even the most vicious conditions- even when the temperature was past fifty degrees below zero. With his down jacket on, he could now turn to the enormous task of making camp. The wide, flat snowfield meant he would have to build a snow wall to protect his tent from the wind. His 6.8 ounce titanium saw cut through the snow amazingly quick, almost as if it was doing it by itself. What once took most of a day was now a matter of hours and minutes. As he cut blocks of snow, he placed them around the rim of the hole from which he was cutting.

By the time he finished the wall, snow fell in sheets around him and the howl of the wind began to deafen his ears; by the time he finished cleaning out the hole, a full blown blizzard raged on around him. Hardly able to walk, he forced his way to his pack and scrambled back down into the hole. His hands freezing, he struggled with the side access zipper to the main stowage compartment, from which he was able to pull his tent out quickly without emptying the rest of his pack. He grabbed two stakes, drove them into the snow to keep the tent from completely blowing away, unzipped the front of the dismantled tent, and threw his pack in, diving in after it.

After zipping up the fly before any more snow could blow in, he fumbled around in the yellowish half-light filtering through the tent walls. He found his headlamp where he always kept it. The tiny halogen bulb shot a piercing beam of light exactly where he needed it. He extracted the tent poles from his pack, laid flat on the floor, and, laughing at the thought of standing out in the cold, proceeded to erect the tent from the inside. Next, he hung a miniature candle from the tent roof and set up his sleeping pad and bag. Interestingly, his “expedition-weight” down sleeping bag was lighter than most textbooks, yet was able to keep him warm regardless of the temperature.

Extending out the vestibule of his tent allowed him to cook his dinner without damaging his tent or surrendering his warmth. Tonight’s dinner was beef stew. He unpacked his stove and white gas. The stove could burn on three different fuels, but jet fuel was by far the lightest and most efficient. It took him less than five minutes to set up the stove and bring the water to a boil. When the water was hot enough, he simply poured it into the bag of freeze-dried stew, stirred it around, and zipped it shut. While he waited for the stew to cook, he scraped up and boiled snow, as he had used all of his water. For dessert, he selected raspberry crumble. Somehow, it sounded better than freeze-dried ice cream at the moment. Finally, the beef stew was done. It wasn’t quite as good as the real stuff, but better than some restaurants. And it would provide most of the nutrients needed for another hard climb tomorrow.

As he finished his tea and raspberry crumble, he smiled at the thought of his wife worrying. The storm shook the tent violently. He crawled peacefully into his sleeping bag.

Zak

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The Arctic moonrise was in full flight, turning the brilliantly white snow a pale golden color. It was amazing. Civilization has advanced so far for him to do this as a living. His wasn’t all that different from any other career: like the rest of us, his intelligence understood and exploited technology to conquer and tame nature.

This is the only part that I don't especially like my writing. I don't like that I used "was" twice in a row. And I don't like the the "so far" in the second sentence. I'm also not sure about "his intelligence understood...".

The problem is I also don't like any of the alternative I've thought up. For example, changing the first sentence to "In full flight the arctic moonrise turned the brilliantly whit snow a pale golden color" eliminates the active verb "turning", but I want the reader to visualize the physical line where the snow is turning from white to gold. Changing the second sentence to "It amazed him." leaves it less ambiguous as to what amazed him- the moonrise or the advancement of civilization.

So, if anybody has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. :)

Zak

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This is the only part that I don't especially like my writing. I don't like that I used "was" twice in a row. And I don't like the the "so far" in the second sentence. I'm also not sure about "his intelligence understood...".

The problem is I also don't like any of the alternative I've thought up. For example, changing the first sentence to "In full flight the arctic moonrise turned the brilliantly whit snow a pale golden color" eliminates the active verb "turning", but I want the reader to visualize the physical line where the snow is turning from white to gold. Changing the second sentence to "It amazed him." leaves it less ambiguous as to what amazed him- the moonrise or the advancement of civilization.

So, if anybody has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. :) 

Zak

There's nothing wrong with "was" in two successive sentences.

Regarding the description of the moonlight on the snow, why not continue your metaphor with the (implied) bird in flight, and its wings touching the mountains----you could have the wings' lines and the mountain's lines converging in some way.

As for "his intelligence understanding", why not just "he understood"?

As for "amazing", instead of telling the reader that he is amazed, why not have him express a thought which shows that he is amazed?

I hope these suggestions are helpful, or at least suggest other ideas to you.

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There's nothing wrong with "was" in two successive sentences.

Regarding the description of the moonlight on the snow, why not continue your metaphor with the (implied) bird in flight, and its wings touching the mountains----you could have the wings' lines and the mountain's lines converging in some way.

As for "his intelligence understanding", why not just "he understood"?

As for "amazing", instead of telling the reader that he is amazed, why not have him express a thought which shows that he is amazed?

I hope these suggestions are helpful, or at least suggest other ideas to you.

Thank you very much for the suggestions. I really like the idea of continuing the "bird in flight" metaphor. It's something I completely missed! I suppose I could say "he understood" but I wanted my teacher to understand that it was man's intelligence that made backpacking possible. I tend to err on the side of over-emphasis. Your way is better though.

I'll have to give the last suggestion some thought. I'm not sure if it fits.

Thanks again for all the help. I haven't gotten it back yet, but I think I did pretty well. I just wanted some input other than my teacher's. Thanks!

Zak

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It'll be interesting to read the teacher's comments. The main thing, of course, is for you to be highly satisfied, and then, if you can improve it more, do that, too.

After reading this well-thought-out and detail-packed description, I can't see anyone failing to grasp the ever-present role of man's intelligence in "Sleeping On The Edge". Good job.

Brian

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The description was well done. Years ago I started a few pieces on climbing a mountain, but I wasn't satisfied because I knew nothing about climbing a mountain, i.e., the details of the profession. So these pieces are presently abortive. I saw mountain climbing as a wonderful vehicle of exemplify Objectivist Virtues. You managed to present man's life preserving, life easing, ingenuity. If you are personally interested, you can make this into a longer work.

Jose Gainza.

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Thank you both very much for you compliments.

Mr. Royce- I won't get the essay back until after Christmas break- sometime in January. But I'll be sure to let you know how I did and what she though, if your interested.

Jose- I love climbing and I too saw it as a way to portray virtue. My writing style isn't developed quite enough yet, and the piece is quite short, but I think it was fairly good. Plus, I don't think I've ever writing a descriptive essay before. At the moment, I don't have the time for lengthening it, though it could be a great short story (rather than essay).

Thanks again, both to those who commented and those who read.

Zak

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Thank you both very much for you compliments.

Mr. Royce- I won't get the essay back until after Christmas break- sometime in January. But I'll be sure to let you know how I did and what she though, if your interested.

Jose- I love climbing and I too saw it as a way to portray virtue. My writing style isn't developed quite enough yet, and the piece is quite short, but I think it was fairly good. Plus, I don't think I've ever writing a descriptive essay before. At the moment, I don't have the time for lengthening it, though it could be a great short story (rather than essay).

Thanks again, both to those who commented and those who read.

Zak

Well ... I wouldn't call it a "descriptive essay" but a "basis" for a good piece of art. An "essay" for me serves for non-fiction. I suspect that this is first hand, i.e., you have "climbed". I have only climbed in my consciousness. All it takes is someone who can describe the climbing experience ... perhaps I am being to simple ...

Jose Gainza.

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I have only climbed in my consciousness.  All it takes is someone who can describe the climbing experience ... perhaps I am being to simple ...

Jose, by "consciousness" here do you mean "imagination"?

In your second sentence, what does "it" refer to?

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Jose, by "consciousness" here do you mean "imagination"?

In your second sentence, what does "it" refer to?

"It" is writing a good art piece about mountain climbing. Consciousness is my imagination.

Jose Gainza.

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Consciousness is my imagination.

So, if you are conscious of reality, you are just imagining reality?

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So, if you are conscious of reality, you are just imagining reality?

I've never physically (existentially) climbed a mountain. But I have vividly imagined it in my own imagination, which is an aspect of my consciousness, as opposed to my body and its existential action. Metaphorically, since I am talented, I can say that I have climbed a mountain in body and in spirit--but that is just a metaphor. Metaphysically that has never actually occurred by my person, but potentially it is metaphysically possible that all men can existentially climb a mountain. Now when I use the term "existentially" I don't refer to the philosophy of Existentialism, which actually reificates a zero as a central aspect of its teaching; though since I have not studied any Existentialist, and have only been told about them generally, I suppose you can say I am imagining that they reificate a zero.

I have never really been conscious of an actual climb of a mountain, such as Everest. But I have been conscious, via television and movies, of other peoples' climb, though I experienced it from the comfort of my couch, or sofa, as you like. However, by using my consciousness, specifically, my imagination, I have placed myself in a fictional climb. I was conscious of the vision my imagination provided. It is absurd to say that one is conscious of reality and that one imagines it at the same time and in the same respect.

Jose Gainza.

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