Perspective Through Climbing: Ditching The Flip Flops

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Sitting on top of the ridge, in the sun and next to an oak with thick, beautiful green moss at its base.  The moss is flowing into a puddle under my feet and onto the rock I’m leaning against, this grey sandstone wall that is slowly melting down over the hillside… and rays of sunshine are streaming toward the yellow and brown leaf carpeted forest floor.  It’s beautiful.  I love to stand on moss barefoot, especially when my feet hurt.  Right now my feet hurt.  I just finished hiking up barefoot in a last-minute decision to ditch the flips flops on the roof of my car.  Conflicted about something else entirely I’m standing there, mid-step trying to decide if I should walk up barefoot.  I’m here to figure stuff out so, start by being grounded.  Awareness.  There aren’t too many things that bring awareness of surroundings and self to the forefront like walking through the woods barefoot.  Everything is slower…quieter…smoother.  The wet leaves and roots are now my friends, while the jagged bits of rock on the trail that used to provide traction are now just like that acorn you can’t see under that pretty red leaf, painful.  I had a bit of tunnel vision on the trail until now.  Focusing only on each step and not really paying attention to my surroundings.  Each placement is specific trying not to step on the things that hurt and still stumbling at times on seemingly small stones.  Then I hear loud crashing through the canopy.  The Wind rushes above in a torrent of white noise thinning the trees of dead limbs and showering acorns all around.  As I am stepping over a large downed tree, a limb falls just on the other side.  Interesting how Nature can reveal a lesson if you are open to it.  Don’t focus so much on the little things.  There is a lot more going on around you to experience.  Kicking it out of the way and letting out a quick, “Whooop!”, I start having fun trying to speed up.  Getting into a rhythm dogging limbs and stones on the path.  Walking weird.  Like an orangutan with its arms in the air, constantly shifting weight and trying to keep balance on the sharp parts.  Awkward and probably hilarious looking, at least that’s how it felt, and it felt pretty great.  The trail is changing and the sharp little stones have been replaced by sand.  I am getting close to the rocks now as my pace slows.  They welcome me as my feet are soothed by the trail.  The sand is a little wet, soft, and cool.  Now I am stopped at a “Y” in the trail, digging my toes into the sand and trying to decide which way to go.  I am here to find the “how” in something and here is, what I should have been thinking about facing me on a trail.  The “why?”  I immediately turn right and head up hill for the top, for the sun.   I am in the breeze now at the top of the ridge and standing on a warm rock in the sun.  This place affects me so,… “I’m glad my flip flops are on top of the car…I might make this a habit.”…   Which brings me back to why I’m standing on moss with tender feet.

Here I am, about to instruct a climbing class in which I want to start off talking about the mind and focus on intent…, and I am a little upside down and sideways lately.  Not focused.  Not centered.  Only aware enough to know I’m not aware.  Here I am.  Here I am…this place where I find quiet on the rock.  How do I teach with the passion necessary to convey the importance of Mind, Body, Soul to others when inside I am not feeling aware or centered?  If I am neither of these, how can I share that space with others?  How do I teach a centered soul is the focus when I struggle so very much at times?  Time to climb and see what I can see.
Time to circuit.  Time to climb.  We’ll pick up here in a bit…

…A bit time later…

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Picking up where I left off on paper in a new space.  Here I find myself atop an unfamiliar wall, in a somewhat unfamiliar place, having been lost at times and then finding my way.  I’m traversing the Horse Pens Boulder now and working through a low offwidth crack.  Something I couldn’t do last time out.  I want to share that with somebody.  But not today.   Not this day of sitting and climbing and writing.  In contact with the rock the entire time.  Contact.  Touch.  Being in this moment.  Hmmm…Aware.  Rest in the moment.  Body position.  Breathing.  Oh man.  “Where is my mind?”  No where.  “Where am I now?”  I’m just on this rock down around the corner now.  Toes on bits.  Fingers on bits.  Just trying to hang on and live with intent.  I get it now.  The last one hundred feet simply happened.  I don’t remember the moves.  They just happened.  I was in the place doing what I Love and everything fell into place.  Time to write.  This is as good a place as any, so I start moving to the top and take my pack off.  Sitting on the edge with my leg over the side and leaning against the perfect rock, I’m pulling out my notebook and laughing at myself…

So here I am once more, in the place I have been finding so many answers.  How do I teach and convey with passion when I don’t feel centered and aware?  Sometimes my ability to overcomplicate astounds me.  It’s always so simple and that’s why I’m laughing.  The very first thing I want to discuss in class is Mind and intent.  Why do you want to climb?  Why are you here right now?  What is your intent?  Whatever that is, be in that place.  Pretty freaking simple, I know.  Why do I want to climb?  Why am I here right now?  What is my intent?  The last two questions rang in my head as I stopped mid-step trying to decide about wearing flip flops.  Why am I here right now?  Trying to be grounded, to learn.  What is my intent?  Learn by paying attention, being aware.    As I stopped and smiled, walking back to the car with flip flops in hand to put them on the roof, I tucked those three questions in the back of my mind regarding climbing and this class I am teaching.  At the end of the day, after letting the questions gestate and trying to whittle my reasons down to the simplest truth of each, I feel better having understanding but embarrassed having lost sight in the first place.  Love, Love, Love.  Why do I want to climb?  Because it is my my Passion and I Love it.  Why am I here right now?  Because Love made it possible.  What is my intent?  To Love.  Hmmm…Interesting answers.  ‘Cause I’m not feeling it right now.  There are still parts of me that are not feeling that Agape, that Peace.  I am still a little tumultuous.  But then…I guess, when would be a better time?  I know exactly how it feels right now to practice awareness and focus on intent in a state of confusion.

So what have I learned?  Most importantly the reminder of Love.  Love is selfless and I have been given the opportunity to share it, and that’s where the excitement comes in.  It’s the excitement that spreads like wild fire when you just shake your head, laugh, and share it.  Simply doing the thing you are Passionate about and Love to do and sharing it with others.

I’d really like to make this all about climbing but today as it turns out it was about ditching my flip flops on the roof of the car, and going for a nice barefoot stroll up the hill.

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