Thursday, October 7, 2010

Whoa, it's been a while...

Whewwwww....Hello again. It has been a while since I posted on this here bloggie blog. Good to be back. Life has been busy but life has been good. I'm going to be curt (sorry). Below is a recent piece set to appear in the second volume of the Climbing Zine...out soon if you'd like a copy. Hope people are well!

Cheers and hugs,


Points of Pressure

Some of us go through life applying just enough pressure to stay relaxed. Realizing through time and experience that too much external burden will only cause us to fear, falter and fail.

In climbing, applying just enough pressure with the pointed edge of the shoe or the tips of the finger to maintain a secure and comfortable grip is all that is needed. Many times though, comfort and security are not words exactly associated with the situation at hand. While strength, stamina and ultimately technique reside in the hierarchy of climbing needs, application of enough pressure is the exact bond between human and rock. One can possess many characteristics of a good climber, but connecting physical feat with mental acuity and execution is a greater challenge than of either physical or mental alone.

The rock appears bare and featureless but you know it has been climbed before because the chains to anchor into are visible 70 feet up. With harness, shoes and other essentials required for this sport climb, you verbalize the safety check your hands are already tasked with to your partner and lifeline.

“You’re the man on the hand” you finally hear.


Breath deep and exhale. Okay. Time to do this.

Even before you begin the climb, the mental aspect of your strategy is about to be sabotaged, sand-bagged or otherwise. This is the attraction of climbing for me. No sooner do I find myself 10 feet off the deck, carefully placing hand and foot in some alternating fashion do I realize my plan of attack is being shot full of holes. The full scheme of how I will top-out is not in mind because what truly matters is the points of pressure between my body and the rock at this current spot in space and time. If I allow other external pressures of life into my psyche, I will not finish. It seems simple to say, but thinking, saying and doing are all separated by fine lines. Welcome to the grey area.

I try to center-out. What was it he used to say to me?

“It’s like a puzzle; you gotta solve it piece by piece.”

I can hear his voice inside my head every time I find myself on rock now facing uncertainty in how to proceed. This mental memo combined with the possibility of danger and/or death and I find myself in the zone – tuning out the dangers; focused on task at-hand and foot. For some, a certain Kenny Loggins tune may be playing; but for me, it is a comfortable silence where my mind is gradually solving the puzzle at hand; commissioning my hands, feet, and entire physical being to the toil; to the completion.

I admit my extraverted nature has a hard time shutting up sometimes. Many love this quality about me. I cannot say I love or hate such because I do not desire to analyze myself – especially in writing. What I do appreciate though, is the quieted effect climbing has on me. When I learn to let myself ebb and flow with how my situation pans out on the rock, I find the clarity and vision for problem-solving echoing in the canyons of my mind. With a growing understanding of what the echoes are revealing, I come to appreciate the changes in perspective 10, 40, 58 feet up – almost as if I gain understanding with each new point of view. From this, the quieted-self pieces the puzzle together; not being daunted by unseen needs for change. Though, when I resist and am no longer quiet my technique exits and ego and preservation of self enter. The flash-pump I feel becomes companions with the fear of death, fear of falling or fear of how I appear to those who are watching. I no longer engage in a higher-mind. Reduced to primal survival, I finish and wonder how I came to conquer other routes of greater difficulty, but flirt failure with easier ones.

Thinking back, it seems nowhere else in that spot in space and time did I have the chance to fathom how a change in my quiet perspective dictated a successful change to my plan. Before the fear and the loudness of life crept into my consciousness, would I have still been able to center-out and focus?


I realize from climbing I have so much to write about but putting it logically and understandably into sentences that carry discernment is difficult. But why? Ask the tree why it grows and if it could talk, it would say, Why not?

“All I know is how to grow; I take in, I use, I give back. This is the life I only and always will know.”

Being of a higher mind simply because our species has developed and evolved significantly compared to the simplistic beings that surround us, is something not to be taken lightly. Finding a manner to engage that higher brain center is the challenge we as humans face. How is it that something physical can promote our brain waves to a higher level? Expert opinions aside, climbing puts us in that real fear of life or death. Even with all the safety features in place, you still gather a building fear. Enter the elevated consciousness. Standing back on the ground looking 70 feet up, you are not thinking of how it would feel if you fell from that height. Your mind is not fogged by failure. You practice optimistic thought and beta-gathering – whatever you can do from the ground to start your action plan’s formulation. Once you start applying the pressure needed to move decidedly up the rock, you find the quiet beauty of your mind harmoniously syncing with the surface your feet and hands are touching upon. Problems arise but possible solutions trail not far behind, much like the train’s cabose. You smile, realize everything is going to be alright and appreciate how the past shapes the future.

Meaning has been redefined now. Life is dynamic and so must be the learning process and understanding associated with challenges, fears of mind and successes. Applying too much pressure is most likely a direct result of fear. Typically, failure ultimately follows fear. However, applying just enough pressure in life to stay relaxed, like in climbing, requires a higher mind. Hopefully we all see the need and are able to center-out and tap-into such when we find fear building. Points of pressure can serve us well. It really is a matter of how hard, or how relaxed we find ourselves applicating.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Updates Hoooo!

Hello Peoples. Sorry it has been almost a month since my last post! Today could be considered ceremonious if we're feeling like it. After this short entry is complete, I am taking my internet modem back to Time Warner. No more internet for Alan; at least at my apartment. I'm counting down the remaining month in this sweet pad of an apartment. As my pictures will show (check out my picasa site! the porch I have had to hang-out on is second-to-none.

Things continue to go well besides the light dusting of snow we are receiving today. Excluding yesterday and today, it has been in the low 60s with plenty of warm sunshine. Hartman's Rocks, the place for mountain biking, camping, hiking, running, will be opening very soon and everyone in town is anticipative. I'm still looking for spring/summer work. Have a couple leads. We'll see where they go. I hope to move home in mid-July to spend a week or 2 with family and friends before I move to Boone, NC. Hope ya'll are well and I'll try to continue updating from the work computer.

In the meantime, enjoy a short portion from my recent piece. I've cut and paste 3 different sections so it's not a complete piece but it's a sampling. It is about substances and society. Enjoy:

Life has a way of extracting the happiness out of you. Liken it to a bee extracting nectar from a flower, but the twist is the reality and necessity of it. Many people choose to medicate with “happy” drugs –living in a false reality created by chemical messengers communicating to their bodies how they should think and feel. Happy drugs, that express constant emotion without much flux; effectively making the user a smiling zombie of sorts. You ought to laugh because you know that those drugs desensitize the taker to what really eclipses them: sadness; often cohabiting inside other emotions. Though, you hold your stones back because you admit you are a swimmer in the ocean of users.


We Americans as a commonwealth rely on uppers, downers, lefties and the occasional right; day in and day out. Cold medicine, marijuana, Percocet, Ritalin, Alcohol, Ambien and coffee all exemplify the larger body of substances ingested hourly, daily and weekly. Look straight ahead; now behind and over each shoulder. Who do you see? Now find a reflecting surface. Did you detect the similar nature of life’s fellow occupants with your own? As hard as it is to admit our interdependence with these substances, the truth is cold and real. To sit there passively and say that what you read isn’t true is to deny on the most basic level: yourself. Honest thoughts try to admit that you have never ingested any substance orally, intravenously, or otherwise but your ears tune-in to the unspoken falsity and wire to your brain a collective realization. Turning the pointed finger back on yourself is humiliating, but good news is, others will love you if you love yourself for who you are – regardless of your chosen poison.


While I do not suggest you go out and start using-up on what others are getting down-with, I do recommend however, that you take a look around and acknowledge. Both seen and unseen “users” are all around you. Are they lurking in shadow waiting to abduct your kid and sell him into sexual slavery in Hong Kong? No. They are the people you talk with at the bank, grocery store and public service/government offices. Now, before you go pulling Salem-esque Witch Hunt-stunts, breathe for a second. People are people and thus we do things just because we do; no intense or detailed explanation is needed. Basic human desires for plants, powders or liquids to alter their perception because of pain, grogginess, social reasons or other obscurities is inherent. We should strive to deal better with such things when we witness them in others. Turn the mirrors of your eyes back on yourself; then you’ll see it isn’t me…it’s you; it’s all of us.

One Love,


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Updates Abound...

Ya'll. What's kickin? Just got back from Saint George and Zion, UT. Let me tell you, Zion is a sick place that everybody who ever liked or likes nature, should go. Be sure to check out my photos online! (

Otherwise, for those not in the know (my bad), I have taken an assistantship with Appalachian State University as a residence director (RD). I will be working towards my graduate degree in College Student Development (possibly with a concentration in Outdoor Program Administration). I am excited and nervous for my transition as well as move back across the country. I see life as dynamic and I find myself excited for the challenges and new perspectives ahead. All in all it will be good and I know I'll look back on my time here in Gunny and in Boone, NC as allllll good :[]

Hope ya'll are well. I apologize if my prose reaches many of you before my voice over the phone. Know I care and wonder about you all in some way or another. Get a hold of me if you think of it. Catch ya soon...


Monday, March 8, 2010


Tis official ya'll. I'm headed to Boone, North Carolina starting July 26ish for a 2-year stint at Appalachian State University. I will be studying College Student Development with a possible emphasis in Outdoor Program Administration. I am excited to finally be pursuing my graduate degree. I will be sad to leave Gunnison. So much has happened here to me and my life. I have learned much and will never forget the people, places, etc. Look for a more detailed and in-depth synopsis on my life here in Gunnison before I leave this July.

Thanks for the continued support. Love ya'll.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Oh where oh where has Ben Johnson gone?

I feel now in ways like I haven’t in recent memory. I grasp to wrap my mind around the occurrences as of late. For a symbiotic relationship to end so suddenly, though warnings had been trickling down the fault line, is deep. Who would have imagined that the crack in the dirt would have opened so prematurely. Is this really the cessation of a mutual cooperative? Questions such as this still continue to perplex the sensitive-minded.


Imagine something that you love; a family member, a friend or a pet. Now imagine how you would feel when that thing you love takes a marked deviation from you; distancing itself with its unripe bite and not its cautious bark. Saturate that thought. Let it permeate the synapses…..linger…..culminate in mental fermentation. After you imagine that, you can begin grasping the occurrences as of late. Why do these things elicit deep ripples in the pond? A pond that supposedly cares about the organisms occupying it and its commitment to moving forward together. Were not the benefits habitual?

Enough questions, time for the facts. Straight up, this piece may challenge you. You may be disturbed to know that such a great person – in mine and other’s opinions is no longer here at Western. However, after the mental angst has settled, you will find a nugget of happiness buried deep within for a truly great man. A great man who has been minorly misunderstood, unappreciated by a few, and sadly shunned from a place he loves truly; but, a man that has a bright future ahead of him with new and wonderful opportunities.


I had decided to write this piece about a great friend of mine, Benjamin Johnson, but found it quite difficult to put my finger on a proper start, middle or end. I had initially wanted to express emotions, anger being prevalent amongst those, but found it difficult to watch what I may write. Instead, after debating internally, turning the idea up instead of down; right instead of left; I decided that an approach to the positive loveables about Ben-“jamin” would be a smile-on-your-face kind of way. Therefore the prose that flows shall be such – some peering into my psyche, some telling how it was.

You walk around Western’s campus with Ben and every few hundred feet there seems to be another jolly soul who knows him in one fashion or another. By chance, you meet a young student on campus and consequently find out that they were turned-on to Western because of something Ben Johnson said to them before their academic career here began. Now, to differentiate tall tales from truth, Ben is not responsible for every student on this campus. Not even close. But, what he is responsible for is a number of diverse students who like he, came to Western looking for something to love; something to be passionate about – even though they didn’t know what that was yet. If I had to assume, I’d attribute his popularity to his loveable characteristics. The way he will spend a few minutes with you chatting casually about your day or something that’s on your mind and how the elements of a caring listener become apparent in the engagement; before or after his signature greeting: the non-formal handshake.

Funnily enough, within my first few public outings with Ben, I found that we had great difficulty getting places on time. But, it wasn’t necessarily because Ben is untimely. When it counts, Ben is the guy you want in your corner – going extra rounds when needed. I’d attribute the lapse of time rather, to others stopping and saying hello to Ben and he conversely engaging to see how they are and how their day is going. It felt like just a month or so ago at City Market when I asked my other good friend Luke, ‘how does Ben know all the people that talk to him throughout the store?’ To which Luke’s response “Ben recruited them to come to Western.” I laughed a delightful laugh in disbelief if I do recall, and found myself amazed. To continually see students and people he knew after only a few times hanging around Ben blew away my perception of friendliness. I honestly will say I desired to have a friend who knew a lot of people; especially when reasons were as such. To find a person intertwined, even if for 30 seconds in your life mystifies my comprehension of the warm circumstances he brought to each conversation. Especially when the subconscious warmth is revealed in pouring back over the occurrences. Will we notice the lack of warmth in conversations with others; or will we find the ability to imitate what he exhibited. Who knows? Time will tell…


I look outside and think of how the snow coats things in beauty. I catch a fleeting cerebral glimpse of another season not so white and become aware of its allure in one form or another. How grace and good comes to cumulation when tranquility is in homeostasis. I look at my friend through memory’s eye and perceive how the seasons remind me of him. The way he finds internal beauty in others. His judgment not exceeding his physical distance from you. The way his smile imitates the sunshine and his facial expression the calm blue sky.

I acknowledge that it takes a marked ability to be non-judgmental the first few times you meet a person and start to get to know them. Meeting people is not easy, but yet it is – especially when you have a positive disposition like Ben. The affinity of being around him is similar to the moment a flower reaches full bloom; or when the moon comes from behind the clouds to bask you in its loving light. I cannot help but think of moments when everything seems right and liken it to being around him. I can say far beyond a reasonable doubt that I know a man worthy of the praises others admit of him. He embodies in many ways, what we should strive to be. While humans inherently make errors, the manner in which we control how they dictate our immediate future is what differentiates us. Ben’s way of living, his unrevealed goals, and the way in which he rides the ocean of life is to be happy. Despite the calamity or calm at hand. Much like the crux of a climb, Ben’s last essence is his invitation to others to be happy along with him in whatever he does.

Join us…..join your friends; your family…..join him. Seek to find the beauty in others and in the tainted magnetism of all that is around you. Weed out the seeds you loathe. Find the seeds to plant and choose ground that will prosper them. With love, nurturing, care and understanding your seed will bloom to be as Ben’s has. We will always miss the memories of Ben’s presence at Western, but celebrate his absence in the joy of his new life. Long live Benjamin Johnson. Long live what he lives.