Sunday, March 4, 2012

Epiphanies on a Plastic Wall (or Rock)

I recently started climbing again. So far it's only been inside, which is fine, but there's something about being outside that adds a whole different dynamic. Either way, I believe one of the most amazing things about climbing is this: You can learn the nutshell version of just about every life lesson on a wall/rock. 

Don't believe me? Try it. It forces you to be entirely present in the moment, and completely aware of where every part of your body is. You have to face yourself in all your human glory- your fears, strengths, weaknesses, pride, and insecurities. If part of your body is weak, it will strengthen it and the parts that are strong will be capitalized on. It will challenge you mentally and draw out strength you never knew you had. The lessons I've learned translate so seamlessly into my daily life.
  • Be flexible. I can sit and plot out my course based on how it appears from a distance, but frequently when I actually get to what I saw, it's different than I had anticipated and I have to adjust my plan. Sometimes I have to entirely scratch the plan because no matter how I change my angle, I can't reach the next hold from a particular position. I have to go a completely different route.
  • Sometimes, you have to just walk away. I've found points when I have to walk away because I'm so frustrated I can't reach what I know I can get. I take some time to breathe, center, and re-focus. When I come back to the problem, I somehow easily launch to the same hold I couldn't reach the last time. It's not the same obstacle as it was before.
  • Not planning at all = bad plan. I've started off and not planned at all. Usually a bad idea. Even though the course may need to change at some point, having planned out as much as possible prior makes adapting to an unexpected change a much smoother process than ending up completely blindsided.
  • When you are afraid of going any further, ask yourself why you're scared. This is particularly relevant when belaying because I'm tied and anchored to someone else. Provided I trust the person belaying me (and clearly I should if I'm going to allow them to suspend me from high enough to hurt if I fall) there's really no reason to be afraid. There is no real fall- there is simply slipping away from the wall until I grab on again because the person below is supporting me.
  • Trust the people you're anchored to, and the ones who are spotting your ascent. As mentioned in the point prior, why would you be anchored to people you don't trust? If you have people in your life you trust- a devestating fall isn't really possible. Even when bouldering (climbing shorter walls with no harness), there are "crash pads" and/or people below who will help buffer the fall.
  • There are times when you are anchored to no one and there's no one below- still ask yourself "Why am I scared?" All that said about support/anchoring/spotting- there are times when there's no one below to catch me if I fall. That's still not an excuse to stop moving. My moves may be more calculated, but they certainly aren't static.
  • You have to trust yourself, and be fully committed. I've learned that if you don't trust yourself and completely commit to the course (could also be known as your life), you'll inevitably miss your mark. It's not always going to be easy, and sometimes it's going to be downright terrifying, but if you don't ever take a chance and reach for what you want, you'll never get it.
Focus on what you want, and go for it.

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