June 2, 2006

Andrew Brash & Moby Dick

What do they have to do with each other? Bear with me. A few weeks back, climbers on Mount Everest left a British climber, David Sharp, to die. And he did. Today I read that an Ancaster climber, Andrew Brash, and his team saved a man instead.

Let me offer up this disclaimer right out of the gate: I don't get the Everest thing. Conquering it requires pain, money, fitness, pain, time, pain, more money, and more pain. Not my thing. I don't come close to understanding, and I'm not going to pretend I do. I'm pleased when I get the cork out of the bottle in one piece.

Which brings me to Moby Dick. It's the classic tale of Captain Ahab versus the Whale. The story goes on and on as Ahab chases his nemesis around in his boat, and the whale becomes a diabolical match, wit for wit. Ahab needs to conquer Moby Dick like some people need to conquer Mount Everest.

Andrew Brash's father taught me Moby Dick. I remember sitting in American Literature at McMaster, listening to this booming voice spend most of the semester on this one novel. It's a pretty fat book - and a good one, and yes, I read it, but Professor Brash loved it. It might be rude to say he was obsessed with it, but he was. And my 19 year old self was more obsessed with playing euchre and drinking in the Downstairs John, no doubt rendering me one of Dr. Brash's less memorable students. In fact, I can guarantee he doesn't remember me.

When I saw that his son had given up his attempt so close to the summit to save another man's life, two things instantly went through my head: What an honourable thing, at a time when honour is in such short supply, and if he is his father's son, his thirst for Everest was astounding, making his sacrifice that much more noble.

Thank you Andrew Brash.

Edit: Okay, I just got told I have the wrong Brash family. Who would have thought there were two? (The English prof was Dr. Brasch - note spelling). Sorry for that - though the accolade stands.


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