Fountain pens

Fountain pens.  If you’ve never tried writing with one, you should at least once in your life to say that you have had the experience.  I’ve been writing with a fountain pen since 2003 or 2004.  My doctor wrote with one and I was fascinated by it.  I’d never thought of writing with a fountain pen before, so I read up on them and bought one from Fountain Pen Hospital out of New York.  I loved that pen!!!  I carried it (and a bottle of ink) with me everywhere and took physics notes with it, wrote letters with it, signed important documents with it, wrote all my journal notes with it, you name it.  I wrote with it just to write with it.  I still write with a fountain pen most of the time.  It’s been something beautiful in my world since I discovered it.

Climbing is the same type of thing, and I can incorporate my fountain pen into that process if I want to by logging my climbs with it, writing and drawing up topos with it, etc.  Climbing, though, takes things beyond my former bounds in so many ways and, like my fountain pens, enriches my life.  Climbing is a whole body experience.  I carry my crag pack with my harness, GriGri 2, Belay Master carabiner, climbing shoes, chalk bag with chalk, climber’s tape, ClimbSkin, Secret Stuff, notepad, and iPad Mini 4 in it everywhere I go because I never know when I’ll have the chance to go climbing.  If I have the chance, I’m going for it!  My truck always has all the essentials for indoor and outdoor climbing packed in the back of the cab, too.  There’s room for myself (the driver) and one passenger in my truck most of the time.  I have a crew cab – does that tell you anything?  I have a lot of gear in my truck, and just the minimum necessary packed into my yellow ochre-colored Black Diamond Bullet 16 crag pack to go climbing at the climbing gym.  I carry that with me everywhere I go.  Climbing is an incredible part of my life – an indispensable one.  I would never want to go the rest of my life without writing with my fountain pen, but if I had to choose climbing or my fountain pen, I would choose climbing hands-down.  Why?  Well, first, I don’t think I’d ever have to choose between the two, but really, if I had to choose, I’d choose climbing because it gives me an opportunity to be grounded, to engage my entire body and my entire mind with the rock and with nature and to experience the present moment, moment-after-moment, like nothing else can.  It is something primal, yet beautiful.  It is something powerful, yet delicate.  It is something requiring strength, endurance, power, and technique unlike any other act because you are in the vertical world, and it requires control over your mind, yet you must use your intuition and instinct and let your thoughts go in order to allow your body to do what it knows how to do in so that pure movement over the rock becomes the present moment itself…  Mentally, you have to let go of it to experience it fully.  And this is an inherently dangerous act that we speak of here.  All the more fulfilling.  It fills a need for me, and that relaxes me and relieves the stress of the world on me.  It is rough, yet pleasant.  I do not fear it, yet innate fear that I’m not even aware of – the kind that’s stitched into the fabric of everyone’s being – keeps me on the wall.  Chemicals – neurotransmitters – are released into my body and my body and mind react as they should in any life-or-death situation.  I have a degree of control over those reactions that turns them into a coursing, dynamic force of action for me to climb ever upward with.  It flushes the toxic sludge of illness from my mind and replaces it with a calm flow of movement – a freedom which is only known for a few moments at a time, here and there, if I am fortunate.  Those moments are what make it all worth it, but if you stop to think about them, they’re gone.  I must not attempt to capture them, and instead I may only hope to experience them.  I cannot anticipate them.  Those moments just come and I am there for them.  That is why I climb, and that is why I would never give up climbing.  When I get back to reality, then I might try to capture some of my experience on paper with my fountain pen…

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