Saturday, June 30, 2018

Rock Climbing

I had to wake up at 6 a.m. and go rock climbing.

I learned the basics of rock climbing in two days. I went back the weekend after that. I’ve been hooked ever since.

My skills, such as they are, developed through countless belays up difficult climbs. I never thought of climbing as something to take seriously or something to be studied. I saw it as a stress reliever, a way to laugh, play, and hang with a bunch of people who like to push their limits.

Then I had a climbing lesson with my new boss. She looked over my technique and gave me a few tips and exercises.

Instead of forcing my way up the wall, she suggested, I could use my strength more efficiently. In climbing, it is so easy to use your arms to rip yourself up crimpy holds and feel accomplished. It is another thing to have the efficiency, intelligence, and endurance to climb effortlessly.

My boss once won a competition for who could climb up an intermediate (5.9) route the most number of times. The two guys in the competition climbed it 40 to 50 times. She did the same route 150 times in a row by eliminating extraneous body movements. The only reason she stopped was because she had to pick up her mom from the airport.

For the first time in my climbing career, I began to trust the opinion of someone who knew exactly what they were doing. In the past, I’d brush off advice because, “I’m just doing this for fun.” Now climbing cleaner is my new kind of fun.

As someone living with bipolar, I have discovered in myself an incredible ability to survive emotional upheaval. Still, I would rather not exercise that ability on a daily basis. “Living cleaner” comes by trusting those around you.


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