My Wednesday was spent in a canyon with a good friend, surrounded by autumn sunlight and orange/red/yellow mini maple leaves. I was there, in the corners of ancient cobbles and on the faces carved by a delta, settled firmly over a millennia of stillness and frequented by a breed of adventurers known as climbers.
A different breed, really. Climbers come with their own culture, lingo, practices, theories, habits, class of vehicles (fuel efficient-ish, high clearance-ish, dog friendly, hatchbacks.) Climbers have a body and an attitude that can usually be stereotyped pretty accurately – some of the more flattering aspects being quite admirable. I like the climber girls who admit to shamelessly wearing Chacos to church, hate dressing up, beat the boys… a lot of the prerogative of outdoor culture in general, just with a different stylistic flair. Very earthy and wholesome, the personification of dedication and hard work against persistent challenge. I dig it.
What I don’t dig about climbing, the moments that tap into the easy-route, gravity cooperative neuro transmitters in my head and send them on the fritz. When I am stuck somewhere painful and uncomfortable and it is just simply HARD. Difficult. Gravity is sitting cross legged on my dome chuckling at my pathetically weak struggle against it. I get nervous, I get antsy. I get unsure. Really, honestly, I DO NOT KNOW where to go next in these moments, and I feel like nothing is reaching out to me, rather that I am scrambling aimlessly at the void.
And I keep coming back for more of this. Something in me thrives every time I finish (which, incidentally, is about a fifty-fifty split) a route. Something in my inner struggle is assuaged and edified by what I learn from the rock. Something in my ego was put silently and politely, into its proper place today, moulded by the rounded curves of Maple’s cobbles. Something about the conglomerate composition spoke to me of my place in the packbottom, absolute rock bottom, surrounded by others at every stage of the game. The geology taught me of the nature of dynamic impermanence; the vibrant ushering in of the new season showing that with persistence and presence; being there in the environment, there is a promise of change.