First, one of my favorite quotes:
“There is a sweetness in surrendering to something you will never be good at, and still finding pleasure in doing it.” — Sue Bender, “Everyday Sacred”
I love that one because it kind of sums me up. I love trying stuff — so I do a lot of things, and will probably never be an expert at any of them. But, oh, the sweetness! The pleasure! Thanks, Sue. 🙂
When I was 57, during the Christmas holidays, my son, a rock climber, was home with an injured arm. He couldn’t climb. That was my chance!
For months, I’d been seeing little articles in magazines and newspapers, small mentions of things he’d been doing ‘out there,’ wherever it was he went when he “went climbing.” I didn’t know what that meant. I wanted to find out.
So I asked him to take me to Pipeworks, the indoor rock-climbing gym where he trains when he’s home (Sacramento, CA). I figured I’d learn the vocabulary (highly specialized — I never knew what he was talking about!), find out how to tie some knots, maybe try climbing a half a wall and I’d go home happy, with some more understanding of what my son did all the time.
Not exactly how it played out.
We did go to the gym that afternoon, back in December of 2008, and he showed me how to tie in (complicated, at first), how to belay (terrifying!), and taught me some of the vocabulary (still learning). But then things changed.
My stomach has always insisted on tying itself into knots when I’m up high in some exposed place, looking over the edge. Knowing that, I knew that climbing wasn’t for me. Too afraid of heights, as most people say.
But that day, after he’d taught me some of ‘the ropes,’ I tied in, checked our knots, stepped up to the artificial climbing wall, grabbed a handhold, and started upwards.
Seven years later, I’m still climbing!
Since then, I’ve had life-altering adventures on mountains, walls, ledges, crags, fjords…the kinds of adventures I never could have imagined, before. Rock climbing has changed my life in so many ways that I really envy those who start younger. I started when I was in what the French call my “third age.” Past middle age. I find that it’s hard to build the required muscle mass, at this age. I work pretty hard at it, but I still can’t do a push-up or a pull-up. But then, I’ve seen interviewed climbers say that you don’t ever have to do that, up on the rock wall. So there’s hope.
Ah, the “sweetness,”: the “pleasure”!. . .
But climbing is only part of my life. Stay tuned for more in our next visit.