Saturday, February 12, 2011

What Did I Expect?

Friday morning I awoke feeling more rested than I have in a long time.  I slept well, and woke eager to get to my climbing workout.  Imagine my disappointment when I wasn't able to climb much of anything.  I did some simple bouldering, on routes I already know, a short section of the 5.9 traverse, less than a hundred feet, and I was spent, falling off easy holds.

It was a disappointing day, but one that brought back a mindset I was in danger of losing.  I never really know, until I get on the wall, or the rock, if it's going to be a "good" day.  Maybe it was something I ate, maybe I'm fighting a cold... who knows?  It reminds me of the week before, when I warned my belay partner I was feeling pretty poor, probably not going to do much.  And then I flashed a 10 minus.

The mindset that is brought back to me concerns the proper place for expectations.  I expect that I will show up.  That I will make the time in my day, and week, for joyful activity.  After that, expectations are done, after that, it's time to just move and enjoy.

Expectations are for the long haul.  I expect that eating well and doing things I love to do will improve the oveall quality of my being, in the long run.  Over time, I expect to see more active days than sedentary ones.

I became an accomplished expert at this when I climbed with my young friend, Eli.  Eli was 12 when we started climbing together, and I was something of a parent to him.  I had many bad days back then, many days when really didn't feel like showing up and climbing.  But I did not want to disappoint Eli.  So, I'd show up, even on days when I felt very marginal.

The surprise was that on many of those marginal days, I climbed very well.  Years later, when I wasn't climbing regularly with Eli, I realized that if I went these lengths to avoid disappointg Eli, I owed myself nothing less.  On days when I felt bad, I would apply what I came to think of as the Eli standard: If Eli were coming today, would I show up?

This standard has served me well.  If I'm truly sick, it makes no sense to push on that.  Better to rest, let the body heal.  But otherwise...  The other standard I learned from Eli is that once you've pushed though, once you've shown up, now it's time to relax and have fun!  That's kinda the point, as Eli would put it.

So I show up.  For me.  And after that, I have fun.  And on the scale of months and years, I look back at the stretch of hills crossed, and it feels right.

(In photo:  Big blocky one in the middle is Everest (Chomolungma), pointy one to the right is Ama Dablam).

No comments:

Post a Comment