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,

Al

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.

“Climbing.”

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.

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