Why Wait? — Starting at 58 (or even later)

 

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!

 

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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.

Why blog?

This morning, as I was doing my usual training run of about three miles through neighborhood streets, I passed two women walking two small dogs. They were intent on their task and never raised their heads as I passed. I greeted them with my usual cheery “Good morning!” but they didn’t seem to hear me.

Off I went, intent on my own task, down to Walnut Avenue and around the smaller blocks to head back toward home, when I passed them again.

One of the women, the smaller one with a large mop of dark hair, was also heading back — but this time she was jogging. That was clearly something new for her. She ran irregularly, head down, hair flopping, bent over the way I feel when I’m gasping for air at high elevation.

“Good morning!” I sent another greeting from my side of the small street to hers.

Her head bobbed up instantly and a broad smile lit her face.

“You inspired me!” she shouted, and ran on past, still smiling.

Wow.

I smiled all the way home.

When I left for my run this morning, I felt anything but inspiring. The climb I’d done with my son, Alex, in Yosemite the previous weekend had left me drained, exhausted, feeling feeble all week (he can exhaust anybody!). I’d dragged myself off to class, dragged home, done nothing but cope. I napped, I ate copiously and gradually my energy came back. Today’s run was the test. Were my reserves refilled enough to fuel a run?

And then, unbeknownst to me, I passed a woman ready to be inspired. Maybe jogging or running had never occurred to her. Maybe she was overwhelmed with chores and never had time. Maybe she’d been told all her life, “you’re not the athletic type.” Maybe she was at a pivotal point in her life where she needed an outlet of some kind, something physical, someone to show her she could. Lots of maybe’s. That’s the thing about inspiring; we never know who, out there, is ready. Who will see what we do, or say, or write and be at the right crossroads in their lives for it to matter.

We never know.

That’s a great reason to write a blog! You just never know who might need the words you see fit to share. Or who might just enjoy them, or need to be uplifted or who might need a laugh or a cry. You just never know.

For some, I may be the least inspirational, most humdrum person on the planet. I don’t in any way mean to suggest that what I do or write here inherently deserves your time.

But for that one person out there who needs to read this, or see it, or think about it — for her, or him, or them, I will continue to write.

As my daughter, Stasia Honnold (the should-be-famous blogger), said in her blog as she weighed the pro’s and con’s of blogging:

Is this blog simply part of a carefully-crafted image? I’m not sure I or anyone can ever get away from image-creation — it may just be what we do — but I sure don’t want image creation to be the first and foremost goal. As cheesy as it may sound, I really do want us to talk to each other. To learn from each other. To enrich each other’s experience. And maybe I miss the mark a lot, but I really see blogs or even the internet in general as a great potential tool for that — as long as we actively keep the focus on sharing and listening, not posturing and proselytizing.

(Read more at: http://www.carfreerambles.org)

So those are the goals here — to talk to each other, to learn from each other. And maybe, if we’re lucky, to enrich each other’s experience. I can’t think of a better, loftier goal!

So enjoy! And if it’s just too dull for you, then you should go read Stasia’s blog. She probably does it much better than I do. 🙂