I’ll warn you, this is a bit of a rant. Okay, it’s an all-out rant, but I need to get this out of my system. We all have mentors and heroes in our lives, whether they be famous or not. We also have those people whom we would love to get on board with our plans for success and happiness in life that just won’t unless it serves them somehow. Let’s talk about the ones we wish would get on board first, and then end on a good note with mentors and heroes, shall we? Skip the next two paragraphs if you don’t want to bother with the rant.
The situation: Supposed friend (one of your closest) shuts down my first sentence about climbing (my lifeblood) with, “You know, I really don’t want to talk about climbing. Can we talk about something else?” and proceeds to jabber on about their grandkids (which I have absolutely no interest in the drama involved with) and complains about their health (while I’m thinking that they should at least attempt to follow doctor’s orders and they’d be in a lot better shape). I DO NOT, however, shut this person down like they did to me. I sit quietly and listen as best I can to what they have to say. Due to the fact that I’m not saying much, this person gets mad and walks out on me, leaving me at the coffee shop alone, frustrated, and extremely angry that I would be treated in such a manner. Fast-forward a little over six months. I’m happily posting on the MyClimb Fall Project Challenge 2017 group page and this person decides to “Like” one of my posts. I’m instantly angry. I know that they didn’t just change their mind and flip like that about the subject of climbing, and I know that they still wouldn’t want to talk about it with me because they’ve talked to me twice – TWICE – since said incident in the coffee shop occurred, and climbing didn’t come up because I made sure it didn’t and so did they. In case you can’t tell, that “Like” happened about a half an hour ago.
So, should I be angry? I think I have a righteous beef. I think that, if they don’t want to be part of my life, which is 99.99% climbing, then they should stay out of it. I’ve been mistreated by this person in the past, which really hurt my feelings (if we want to get deep about things), and truly offended me. They also proved that I don’t have value or matter to them by making the climbing subject off-limits. So what business do they have liking any of my group posts about climbing?! As far as I’m concerned, they excluded themselves from that pool of the population long ago. They inserted themselves into something private, and they’re the ones who made it private. The ironic thing is, they made it MY privacy, not theirs. They are the OPPOSITE OF MENTORS AND HEROES. They are what makes you appreciate your mentors and heroes in life!!! In a world of opposition, these types of people must exist, I guess, or we wouldn’t know how valuable and what a rare gift our mentors and heroes are.
Okay, enough ranting. I want to talk about mentors and heroes. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and getting to climb with mine! Mentors and heroes are the people you look up to and the people you want to emulate in life. They’re the people that you want to be like, be with, and share a friendship with. They’re people you want to at least get to meet in person once in your lifetime. Well, I have to say I’m blessed in this area, because I’ve gotten to meet, get to know, and climb with my mentors and heroes, as already stated. I’ve gotten to learn directly from them and have a good time with them, making memories that will last forever. Lou Renner and Leon Kaatz are two fine examples of mentors and heroes. They both flew to Bozeman, Montana, only two hours from where I live, from opposite coasts of the United States (Lou on the West and Leon on the East) and invited me, a total stranger except for our shared love for climbing as demonstrated through the MyClimb App, to come and meet them and climb with them! And what an absolutely fantastic time we had!!! We got to climb together on three separate occasions during the two weeks that they were in Bozeman, and it was such a blast!!! I learned an immense amount of information and got to have two new and lifelong friends coach me on climbing technique and tell me stories and show me photos… Lou even brought me some gear!!! We’re planning to converge on The Flat Irons outside Boulder, Colorado next spring so that Lou can teach me to trad climb!!! Leon sent me some photos of him climbing, both ice and rock, and a photo of Lou, him, and me in Bozeman together, which is going on his “Tribute Wall”. I’m also officially on his Christmas list! I’m honored and humbled by these gestures. These are extremely special people that are happy to see me succeed, and I them. These are the kinds of relationships that are worth putting time and energy into!!! These friendships are the ones you can look to for support and inspiration and encouragement, remembering the good times you had together, to spur you on whether at a tough moment of doubt or a moment of triumph over an obstacle!!!
Another thing about mentors and heroes – don’t overlook your climbing partners and friends!!! AJ Elliston, my main climbing partner who first took me out to the crag and taught me how to build an anchor and rappel and toprope outdoors at The Ovens outside Red Lodge, Montana! He also took me under his wing and got me into route setting! Michelle Felix, who gave me an indoor lesson on belaying, toproping, and rappelling in our bouldering gym. Chad Chadwick and Brian Hagerty, who coach me on climbing technique in the gym and help me with questions that I have about climbing and about life. Mack, who is training me and helping me get into better all-around shape for climbing. Mack, Michelle, Taylor, Dillon, and all the others who have allowed me to set routes with them in the gym and have taught me different ways to look at the process. McKenzie Pfister, Hayden Dougherty, Jim Rott, Heath Lillie, Emily Toeniss (also my photographer 😎), and the list goes on of people who encourage me and help me push on and progress and succeed at climbing. These are all heroes and mentors, too! So next time you see your climbing buddies, thank them for making your life better!!! You might get some funny looks, but these things are worth saying and letting people know. Trust me. These things can completely change a life!!!