Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Crux

This is my first day back at the climbing gym in many months.  The ritual is so familiar, a comfort really: dress down to t-shirt, loose jeans, and bare feet.  Get climbing shoes and chalk bag out of my day pack, find a quiet place, stretch out.  Then chalk up, lace on the shoes and start reading routes.  Once I set hands and feet to the wall, I am instantly entranced.  Even on “easy” routes, I have to shift my center of balance and use my core to make the holds work.  The intricacy and the physicality of it are completing absorbing.

From the moment my foot leaves the floor until the moment it touches down again, I am completely in the flow of balance and sequence. One route has a huge lumpy place in the wall, the only hold available.  To make it work, I must shift my center just so, palm the rounded shape and trust friction to keep me on.  These holds never feel like they’re going to work.  I just have to make peace with that feeling of “I’m about to fall off.”  When it works, and I ascend, it feels like flying.

I climb until I can’t even close my hands around the holds anymore.  Outside, the thought stream begins to come back, but it is not as insistent, or as convincing, as before.  I’m reminded that anything that puts me in the flow is not just a break from the thought stream.  Each time I enter the flow, it changes me, and I take a little bit of it with me, back to the everyday world.