Perspective Through Climbing

Part 1

I’ve been extremely off the past two plus weeks wrestling with my self esteem. Confused as to why some things were moving in the direction they were and allowing them to feed my Id. Sitting still in the moments out of fear while watching and listening to changes in patterns and trying to come to terms with the aspects of my life that were being affected. Obvious physical performances compounded with the mental strain of striving to talk myself out of it and looking at the situation with limited possibilities had left me… immobile.

Yesterday seems to be the day that perspective was once again gained. I went to a local bouldering area with a friend and proceeded to just follow him, slowly shutting down the mind. At first my movements and breathing were abrupt, choppy, unnatural, and shaky. A reflection of my state of being. My mind focused so intently on not falling, not failing and not performing that I could not see past it all to the truth of self. Over gripping the rock trying to hold onto the idea of strength over fluidity of movement.
As we circuited and climbed more and more highballs my thought process began to shift. The mind began to slowly recognize the necessity to relinquish it’s logic of what would happen WHEN I fell. An imaginary reality that had not happened and would not as long as the mind just allowed the body to be in the moment. The fear of falling and not being strong enough or good enough subsided. The ground, the ever present finality of failure faded away and became blurred and frivolous. And then it finally happened. There was no epiphany, no specific moment of clarity that opened my eyes just a simple quiet that flowed effortlessly through me and onto the rock.
I didn’t step through a doorway into this space of understanding. I was suddenly and simply just there. Flowing along the rock. Short moments of preparation for a move, purposeful breathing, focusing only on the movements within my bubble of existence and allowing the body to just be and the mind to see.

There are moments…, moments in this life where I have fallen short and wrestled with demons in some way…and every once in a while it piles up and can be very confusing, concerning, and disappointing for those around me. In those moments I’ve often asked for patience in this ebb and flow. Sometimes people will remain and sometimes, understandably, it is too much to ask. But then there is that catalyst that thrusts me forward. A reminder of my true self.

So. All of that to say this. When your demons are clawing at you and dragging you into the abyss, shift your focus from the failure of falling. Breathe and allow space for what is right in front of you and within your reach and allow your spirit to flow freely.

All things come.

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Part 2
It’s Not The Hard Stuff. It’s The Good Stuff

When I think of climbing, this thing I Love. This thing I am passionate about. This thing that has given me the opportunity to experience growth and amazement. Wondrous moments. Pure elation and calm of spirit in the connection. The excitement of Adventure, of the unknown, and how it fills me with vigor.
I often write of the ease of these moments and the clarity that is gained. The simple quiet that flows through me onto the rock.  I don’t know if you view climbing the same as I do or if you will even agree, but when I think of climbing it is all of the above and more for me.  What I don’t often talk about is the actual effort. How hard parts or movements are.  I don’t often think about the amount of effort, the hard work. The amount of training physically, mentally, emotionally. The pain. The broken fingers, cuts, the things that tear. These are just the bits in between.

Astroboy. Mount Gretna. A beautiful offwidth. You have to be a certain kind of person to enjoy this. Different from the majority. You have to be willing to put forth trust of who you are into this crack in the rock. This thing you just want to be a part of, the Diabase.  The rock glows in the sun as I walk up to it. Beautiful imperfections. Sitting next to it in golden leaves that blanket the ground. Smiling because I am a part of this beauty around me. It welcomes me as I look closer, deeper. Where I need to go. To the meat of things. I like to be in the sun when I climb. It feeds me, and as I look inside this problem it is closed off from the sun. But this is where it begins. This is where I must go to understand…
So I place my hand with closed eyes so I can feel where I am. It feels so good. It feels so solid and I stand. High fist and another jam. The further I go the harder it gets. Trying to spit me out. It widens below me taking away my feet. I have to press my knees bleeding with high hand and fist stacks. More energy. More effort. Every movement further in is harder than the last and worth it. Then it changes suddenly. I’ve gone as far as I can doing what I know. All of me hurts, My muscles are tired. I grunt from the strain. The voice in the back of my head is saying, “take a break and come back when you can do it”. As hard as it is, this is where I want to be. So, it hurts and is hard and now I’m on my side looking at the ground. A single hand. I try not to get pushed out as I search for that foot, that answer to this part of the puzzle I don’t understand. I can see the sunshine now as I hang upside down…the pain…reaching blindly out and up. Making the transition into the sun out of this place in the rock where I had to give so much, to be a part of it. Blood on the rock from my hands and knees, torn tape and jeans. I’m beat up and exhausted as I collapse on the ground, balled up like a child because every part of me is screaming, trying to just breathe…and then I turn my head and see. As the leaves flutter in the wind and the suns rays split through the trees, it is so simple. This is why it is worth it to me. It is beautiful. It is powerful. It is simple in its complexity and I enjoy the parts of me that come out when I give everything. I’m cut up. I’m beat up. Everything hurts as I stand  with a smile, …closed eyes, …and place my hand so I can feel where I am.
This is the part of climbing…the hard part, that I try to explain to people when they ask why I’m bleeding. I shrug it off and laugh because it isn’t the important part for me. I think of this amazing thing that I get to experience. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t enjoy the pain or the hard parts, to put it simply. But I understand that to experience the wonder and joy of something so amazing, I-you-we all need to work through the hard stuff. Facing what’s in front of all of us and knowing with everything we are, that the tough bits pale in comparison to the joy of connection with this place. This rock.

So there you go. It isn’t the hard stuff. It’s the good stuff.

 

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