It is hard to believe that after living in Boulder, Colorado for almost 2 years and being a rock climber, that I only recently counted my 4th time ever climbing real rocks! If any of you out there are rock climbers and/or have an appreciation for the great outdoors, every moment spent in the Joshua Tree National Park is truly awe-inspiring. I have found that people who do not rock climb sometimes have a hard time understanding why we do it…why do we chose to get on top of a rock by way of the side that looks like a cliff, as opposed to the side where there are basically stairs built in for us…I can only speculate what others would say, but here is my answer to the “why”: I have come to realize that outdoor rock climbing, particularly in such a magical place as Joshua Tree, is one way I feel I can have an incomparable connection and experience with the earth and, more importantly, with myself. I have never been too compelled to learn the true practice of meditation – but please keep trying to convince me, Dad. One day I may be able to sit still for at least 10 minutes, focusing solely on my breath and watching each distraction and thought pass by like clouds…but for now, my meditation comes through physical activity.
I can find peace every time I do a Pilates workout, go for a run, lift weights, climb indoors…the list goes on. But the feelings I have during and after the completion of a climbing problem outdoors are hard to match. Who knew you could feel excited, confused, fearful, certain, sad, joyful, trusting, courageous, alone, arrogant, humbled, and satisfied all after one short (or long, depending on how tall the wall is…) amount of time on a rock?! And who knew that allowing myself to try a climbing problem, fail, try again, maybe succeed, maybe not succeed could lend me the courage to do the same in other parts of my life?! There will always be those problems where you’ll have times that you need to play it safe – go the low route, hand here, foot here. But then there are the times that you trust yourself, you trust what you are reaching for, that when you reach for it and catch it, it will also catch you, so you know you can make the jump. Not every handhold will work for you every time, but at least you can try. And if you fall you can always get back up and try again – though sometimes you may have to wait a day or put tape on your fingers! I may never be a Chris Sharma or a Dean Potter, but the peace, love and appreciation I feel for myself and for the beautiful earth we live on after spending as little as 10 minutes with a rock in the middle of the California desert is what helps keep my mind, body and spirit centered.
That is why I climb!
AUTHOR: Elana Rabin
img source: http://galmeetsglam.com/