Apsley Cherry-Garrard was an English gentleman who was, as they say, born with a silver spoon in his mouth. In 1907, he inherited his father’s large estate. Though he knew luxury, he had always been thrilled, hearing of his father’s achievements in India and China, fighting with the British Defense Forces.
At the age of twenty-four ‘Cherry’ applied to join Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica, hopefully, to the South Pole (1910-1913). His first application was rejected. Scott felt he had nothing to add to the expedition. He would be a detriment and a danger to himself and the entire expedition. He applied a second time and offered to pay one thousand pounds. He was turned down again but gave the money anyway. Scott was impressed with this unselfish act, and a close comrade persuaded him to allow Cherry to sign on as assistant zoologist. This man who had only known luxury was in for the experience of a life-time, and the most torturous battle between life and death imaginable.
For two years the men endured temperatures as low as -77°F in winter. In one event Cherry’s teeth chattered so hard that he shattered most of them. The men were frost-bitten and on the verge of death several times. Scott and four of his men, with the support of the others, did reach the South Pole, but tragically died on the return trip. Yet Cherry remembered those days as some of the best in his life. He wrote in his memoirs:
Those Hut Point days, would prove some of the happiest of my life. Just enough to eat and keep warm, no more – no frills or trimmings: there is many a worse and more elaborate life…the luxuries of civilization satisfy only those wants which they themselves create.”
–The Worst Journey in the World
That final phrase has stayed with me – what a profound saying! Is it true that luxuries we live with can be a liability, blinding us to the joys of a simpler life? My own trip to Antarctica and the South Pole, taught me that I could live comfortably for months with less than seventy pounds of luggage, including winter survival gear. I’ve traveled lighter ever since.
St. Paul teaches:
…I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
— Philippians 3.8