My doctor said to me yesterday, “Well, since you’ve been doing this (climbing), I’ve learned something from you. I’ve learned that it’s really important for a patient to have a passion.” I felt good about that, like it was a compliment, and I felt good about it because I felt like I helped my doctor in some way. Climbing. That’s what I do. That’s my passion and yes, there are times when I don’t feel like doing it, just like there are times I don’t feel like doing anything at all (normally these are overlapping times), but I would never give it up! Climbing engages my entire nervous system, from my frontal lobes to the tips of my toes, and it just does something miraculous and impossible for me – it calms me and makes me feel happy. There’s nothing else that I’ve ever found that makes me feel the way that climbing does. Climbing is the most positive thing I can do to help myself deal with my mental illness and gain my physical and mental health back.
Climbing is hard. It takes practice and hard work to get your mind straight and to get your body in shape. It takes an amount of dedication that you have to determine each and every day. It’s a constant process, which is good, because that means it’ll never be over! I’ll never reach a point where I can’t do or learn any more in climbing. There’s always something more in climbing for me! I love it for that, and I love it for the way it denies the negatives in my life access to me while I’m immersed in it. Passions are something we can immerse ourselves in fully and that give us a sense of peace and accomplishment within a realm in which we don’t spend enough time in today’s fast-paced, stress-laden world. Climbing becomes an alternate reality of sorts for me. Even when I’m reading about climbing, or watching YouTube videos about climbing, those deadly distresses in my life are forced farther away and are incapacitated to a point. Actual climbing, though – that’s the ultimate!!! It’s hard! It’s difficult. It’s dirty. It’s sweaty. It’s painful (in a good way). Climbing pushes you to your limits and beyond, especially in the area of knowing yourself. You find out what you do and do not fear. You find out what you can and cannot physically and/or mentally do at the moment and what you need to work on. It’s not that you can’t do it. You just can’t do it yet. You find out what exhilaration is. You find out what desperation and weakness and willpower are. You experience a mind-body state that is unique to climbing and all that goes with it and into it and around it. You experience mortality in a whole different context. You find your grit and your fire deep inside yourself. You feel most alive when you’re closest to danger and potential death. Climbing does these things for me. It makes me appreciate that I’m alive – makes me feel alive – and that I have this wonderful body and this mind that can experience this thing called climbing in such a way as to transcend the normal bounds of reality by engaging in it. Nature and the outdoors are so precious. I need a good daily dose of climbing, whether indoors or out (I prefer out, and we have to protect our outdoors), to remind me what life is, and that it’s all worth living it. Climbing. That’s what I do.