For years my twin sister harassed, begged, bugged, bothered, whined for me to get into rock climbing. And for years I ignored her. I would rather spend my time at the mall, reading the latest celebrity websites (I still do!), or on a treadmill at the gym. Anything that included getting dirty, not just sweaty, and that involved bugs was out of the question. No. Thank. You.
But for some insane reason I decided to try it. It could very well have been one of the celebrity websites that mentioned rock climbing being a great workout for toning your arms and back. Regardless, with People’s endorsement, I was sold.
What I didn’t expect was that I actually had to work at becoming good in this sport. Being athletic and playing sports my entire life, I took it for granted that I could pick up most sports and hold my own. Not rock climbing.
Lesson #1: Humility.
I remember my first outing at our local Seattle rock climbing gym; I was maybe 2 ½ feet off the ground holding on for ‘dear life’ and asking my sister to make sure she was spotting me. She said loudly, “Jackie, just jump off the wall! You’re making a fool of yourself!” I did as instructed and low-and-behold, I really was embarrassing myself. But who cared! Honestly, I was having the time of my life. It was fun and challenging and I was having a great time.
Lesson #2: Laugh at yourself.
I can count the number of times in my life that I really didn’t care what anyone else thought of me and this was one of them. Sad huh? Who cared if I had chalk dust all over my face? Or the fact I was breathing so hard, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you I was training for a marathon. Was anyone noticing that the rental shoes did not match my top? No. In that moment I realised that for years I was so concerned about what others thought of me that I wasn’t truly living my life. I was living a fragmented, very skewed perspective of what I thought people wanted of me or expected of me. Dare I say, I was creating my own boundaries and limitations?
Lesson #3: Live life for you, no one else.
Rock climbing changed my life. Who would have known that this girlie-girl would actually enjoy, no, love the outdoors? I love that the best rock climbing places require hiking to your favorite spots; including 50+pounds of gear, water and your lunch. I love that these rock climbing trips involves camping for days without a shower with some of your best friends and you have an excuse to pig out and eat whatever you want.
I love the community that I’ve found through climbing. The like-minded spirits who are determined to finish a route come hell or high water; the persistence to keep going when you feel like you have no ounce of strength left; the courage to do something you never thought you’d be able to accomplish; re-telling your climbing stories over a campfire and some good beer; and the cheers and hoorahs when you’re near success. Nothing can ever compare to waking up at dawn with the sunrise at your feet and fresh coffee in your hand with the world waiting for you.
Lesson #4: Surround yourself with people who will push you as well as be your biggest cheerleaders.
If you trust them with your life on a rope, then you trust them in your life without the rope.
Rock climbing has also taught me has been about judgments. On a climbing trip back from Canada years ago, I was with three friends. We’d been climbing for three glorious days and were looking forward to a good shower and some awesome beer. As we approached the US-Canadian border our car got flagged to go into a separate line for “further inspection.” It turns out that climbers have a stereotype and it was my first lesson in being put in a “climbers corner.” Apparently we’re “all hippies who love weed and smuggle it back and forth between Canada and the US. We don’t have a life and just find enough work to get from one climbing gig to another.” The US border patrol brought the dogs out, made us open up the entire car and searched us for hours. I was befuddled beyond belief and quite peeved. Not only because this “further inspection” delayed me two hours from my shower but I was being discriminated against, not because of my skin color or my religion but because of a sport. I did not like it one bit. If they really bothered to do a search, they would have found out I had a full time job at one of the largest NGOs in the world doing global HIV and AIDS advocacy work with college students. I may be a hippie, but I give a damn.
Lesson #5: Don’t judge.
So there you have it, five life lessons that climbing has taught me beyond the rock and rope. Don’t get me wrong…I still hate bugs and am utterly gutted that my pink climbing rope attracts bees and hornets. I guess you can’t take all the girlie-girl out of me after all.
Image via stock.xchng
(Because January can be kinda boring.)
Put together by Lindsey and Katrina to help make January a little more exciting. There are 31 topics for 31 days. There are no rules except that your posts reflect the topic of that day
Tomorrow’s theme is “el. oh. vee. ee.”
Yesterday’s theme was “Dessert“
Find out more about January Blog a Day