In order to be great you have to look at life as one big competition, always trying to be better than the one next to you. Being too competitive can make it hard to gain friendships; most don’t appreciate the mental and physical ‘one up-manship’. Then again, life is full of sacrifices, and you must be willing to ‘give up’ some things in life in order to excel towards your goals or for that matter your potential. This has always been a fault of mine, but my fault has also been my strength. It allows me to out climb the average climber in just a few years. Coincidentally, it’s also allowed me to see my true friends. After all, true friends stick around for the edgy sides of your strengths, not just the polite and acceptable. I mean, this is rock climbing not a tea party for God’s sake.
In the last year I’ve learned – well I’m beginning to learn – that you can’t take life too seriously. Sometimes when you just stop caring whether you send the climb, is when you really start climbing. You must be able to focus and still have fun. It’s a fine line walking between focus and fun, too much of either and you might F* up. Before I get on a climb I always go through every movement, even the easy ones, I imagine each movement, each muscle, and I mentally engage with each movement. I go through the climb in my head as if I was running through one of my routines from gymnastics, pinpointing every step before saluting the judges during competition. When I’m still unsure of how I might be able to make a move I run through all the alternatives, and I mean ALL of them, each hand placement, each foot placement, each action. I may not even touch the rock before I mentally climbed a route twenty different ways. Most importantly when I execute every movement, I may feel scared, but there is an important and vital disconnect between feeling and doing because up there, up there in my mind, there is nothing but silence. It’s just focus, there isn’t much room for anything else. I don’t allow myself to feel the fear until I’ve reached the top. Case in point, bouldering, I am the most uncomfortable with this style of climbing. Take away the confidence of my rope, leave me with a free fall, you’re your crazy if you don’t feel a little fear. When I am unable to drown out the fear and doubts I don’t get to the top.
I can see now that the tables are turned, I am no longer the student, but instead the teacher. I can see the fear manifested in someone else. Being the teacher is no something I am not very at because I get too excited and forget that I’m teaching. My focus turns from the climb to the person I’m instructing, I guess this is where my gymnastics training really comes into play. Seeing the newer climbers struggle with the mental preparedness Is not easy for me because it is something that comes so naturally to me. I don’t know how to let them into my world and cant figure out how to tell them to drown out all surroundings and just climb. It’s not easy to explain to someone to stop and focus on only feet, hands, body and muscle. I don’t know if this is something that can be taught or if it’s just something you learn to do, but I’m trying to find ways to share this skill and pass it on. Who knows, maybe play leads to creativity, creativity to innovation and my new little climbers mind’s will start seeing’ the way I see. Or maybe they’ll just keep hitting the pad two moves in with me rolling my eyes thinking, “really?” The lesson for today is: drown out external surroundings and focus on the internal momentum of what ever your passion.