According to most people I’ve talked to, I will be plunging off the edge of the world at the end of February, which is to say I’m moving to Florida. And yes, I’m aware that the only thing to boulder there are alligators. My husband and I are moving by choice, I do not have a job waiting for me there (there’ll be a homemade cookie waiting for anyone that can put in a good word for me in the Jacksonville area), and I am truly wondering how much I will miss Colorado. I have of course made friends I will never forget and had experiences that seem incomparable. But due to the condition of my feet, my interests have changed over the years and Colorado no longer offers what I feel like I need out of life. I am hoping that Florida does. Let me expound.
I recently asked several climbers in the gym why they climb. What do you get out of this? Why do you keep coming back? I got some great answers:
I climb for the adventure.
It gives me a rush.
My body craves the movement.
I am not myself without climbing.
It makes my back look good.
I don’t want to let my climbing buddy down.
And possibly my favorite –
We are all motivated by different things – health, adrenaline, spirituality, ego, peer pressure. But there’s got to be some connection we all have that keeps us doing a sport that hurts like hell, is super boring to watch, and generally gives you more days of failure than success. I don’t know what that connection is. It is the difference between people who come in the gym for an intro lesson, climb once or twice more, then never come again versus the people who come in for their first time, say nothing, but leave with what I can only describe as an aura. It’s nothing but cliché after that – something clicked, she got bit by the climbing bug, he got a case of climbing fever, etc. All the clumsy expressions amount to one thing – another climber has been added to our mix.
So while I can’t answer what unites us all, I can answer what my motivation to climb has been. For me, it’s all about being able to overcome fear. I moved to Colorado from the south as a weak, asthmatic musician with a few profoundly awkward athletic experiences under my belt (I scored a goal for the opposing soccer team once). As if moving to Boulder and being surrounded by the most physically active people I’d ever seen wasn’t scary enough, one day I was asked to go climbing in Boulder Canyon. I took to it like paisley to a bedspread. I finally found something that not only my mind but my then puny body could conquer. I stuck with routes for years, but once I started to shun ropes for crash pads, I discovered that I could put myself in far more fearful situations through bouldering than I could on a rope. Top roping was the gateway drug that eventually led to my full blown addiction to top outs. Thuggy top outs, high ball top outs, techy slab top outs, I loved them all. I loved them because I was terrified of them, but each one I completed brought me the enormous satisfaction of using my fear to succeed instead letting it dictate my life.
Of course, the down side is when I didn’t succeed, I fell. A lot. And the falls have taken their toll on my feet. But that craving for fear that climbing created in me is still wanting to be fed. I think it was this part of me that eventually attracted me to kiting.
I have spent the majority of my hours of kiting truly frightened. The strength of a power kite is awe inspiring and intimidating. Furthermore, seeing as how I have never snowboarded, wake boarded, or even done anything that requires going fast with your feet strapped to a plank for that matter, kiting is a sport I should have no business getting in to. And yet, here I am, relishing the fear kiting produces in me and determined to overcome it. Just like climbing did for me 17 years ago. And now it’s time to move to a place where I can focus on kiting.
Hence the move to Florida. I plan on throwing myself at kitesurfing with the same obsessive flair that I attacked climbing with. And while I will never stop climbing, it may take a backseat for a little while. The important thing is that I will never quit searching for new challenges and never give in to my fears.
Rylan will be taking over the blog from now on and will continue to furnish you with interesting tidbits to keep you entertained and informed. Rocknamy is signing off. Keep trying hard and stop chasing your dreams – live them instead.