This from my blog posted Tues. May 17, 2005:
I got into rock climbing because a girlfriend thought that rock climbing was better than the thoughts I was having after the boy I chased around the world dumped me.
Some believe that the sport in itself is suicidal, but even as I write and think about it now…my heart palpitates, my hands sweat and the adrenaline rush is like no other. There is no other feeling like this except maybe being in love.
I have tried many other sports. In the DC area, you can join all sorts of outdoor sports…from the semi-couch potato sport of kick ball to more active sports such as softball and volleyball. Some may even consider outdoor chess at Dupont Circle a sport (where I once meet a very nice, charming English boy that resulted in a year long tumultuous relationship). If you see how those bad boys play out there and talk their shit, you know that THEIR chess is a sport. (Or one could always take up the sport of “intern sex”...well, that’s another blog…)
I even ran the defunct, one- time-only, get-it-while-it’s-hot during the spring DC marathon. It got cancelled the following year because the Iraq war started and then runners who were already in DC for the marathon could not get a refund. There were 16 runners who ran in protest anyways. That marathon was cursed from the beginning.
Rock climbing is like training and running a marathon, but the adrenaline rush is given to you in shorter spurts. Rock climbing has been my new heroin. You love the rock because it is nature and it is natural against your finger tips. You respect the rock because it is older than you and probably has weathered worst storms than you would ever go through.
The rock loves you and challenges you in return. Sometimes you’ll find climbers, exhausted after a long, hard climb on the verge of tears because it was a difficult climb and a personal challenge to finish it. There is no judgment on the rock. It is common knowledge that sometimes it’s not only a physical challenge, but also a mental challenge.
When I am up there by myself with no ipod, no internet, no cell phone to distract me, I can only focus on the climb and my physical being. I am thirsty, I am exhausted, I am tired…when will this climb end? How do I get from this point to the finish? Can I climb that far? Am I physically able to do it? Can I finish? What if I fell? Do I have my harness on correctly? Is my belayer paying attention? Why doesn’t anyone ever pay attention to me? Why does anyone care about anything? What I am really afraid of? Failure? Dying? Being alone? Not being loved? Security? My hands ache, my feet hurt, but I must finish this climb.
I must finish this climb because I know I can do it. I know at the top of the climb there is this beautiful view of the valley and river. I know that there is a hawk’s nest to the right. If I don’t finish this climb, I won’t know what is up at the top. I won’t be able to see the view that everyone keeps talking about.
And sometimes, I can’t finish this climb. I have to accept that I can not do this today. Sometimes, I have to learn to let go. Like all things in life: that cute boy, that job, that promotion, that lover, that relative that passed away, that anger that I have. Sometimes, it’s ok to not finish and not be like everyone else.
There are other ways to see the top of the climb. There are other ways to get on top of that “caterpillar pillar”. There are other ways to “win” at the rat race. There is something more from life than eating, sleeping, going to work, raising a family, going to school and getting more cargo. There is more to life than just being a peg in the wheel, trying to reach the “top”, whatever the “top” is.
I want to believe that my participation in the universe is more that a squirming mass of a human body. Or that I need to be bigger and better than something or someone.
Sometimes you just have to take a risk and see what happens. This is why I love rock climbing.