4.16.2012

Picking Up the Pieces

I keep coming up with blog ideas and nixing them by about paragraph two. And this is just my personal blog. What if I were trying to market this shit? Yeesh. Anyway, occasionally I write something on here that's not about rock climbing. Since my finger is still sprained and I'm not climbing as much, I figured I would probably eventually have some other topics to blog about to keep both me and my 15 or 16 occasional readers (and I love you all for reading this sarcastic tripe; no, seriously) as entertained as when I was constantly inundating my posts with climbing-related miscellany. I'm sure I will most likely end up veiling climbing-related musings in the trappings of some 'bigger picture', 'real life' concepts and call it good.

That aside, why not simply delve into a cobwebbed, skeleton-filled corner of my present-day world? Mostly I think it best to keep any such honesty safe and far from the prying eyes of the interwebs, but occasionally great insight can be drawn from semi-public airings of these instances of self-doubt and perceived weakness. It involves relinquishing the authorial advantage (authorial authority?) for a moment, of course, which I probably often do anyway.

I find the idea of personal progression simultaneously both absolutely critical and hopelessly mundane. What I mean is, as someone whose life is well out of balance from what he desires without knowing exactly what it is that he wants to happen, my consciousness both leaps at the possibility of action and also cringes in fear and doubt and begins to defend itself. This defense manifests in a plethora of harmful ways. Indecision and lack of resolve haunt my every move. The question of the future and often even the present seems implausible and even laughably rhetorical. The impossibility of being relaxed and conscious of the moment spawns limitless anxiety. Shame sets in; when people ask me what I'm doing (and generally I think they mean for work, which defines so many of our lives) I would much rather punt than have to fucking explain myself. I am so weary of telling people that I don't have a steady job and that I have no goddamn direction in my life that I wonder if people ask those questions out of conviviality and curiosity or out of malevolence and sadistic intent. Of course the latter option is often unlikely but my sense of opprobriousness usually takes precedence over reason. Age 30 and afflicted with mundane pretend-problems of the over-privileged; oh what am I to do?

Part of this 'glass half empty' mentality that curses every aspect of my life right now is a carryover from the past, when self-confidence issues gripped my life like an iron fist and choked every possibility into dust before it ever had a chance to breathe. All the way into college I couldn't perform a single action without second-guessing it and obsessing about how others would judge me for it. Binge drinking, from the latter part of high school onwards, provided at least an ephemeral escape mechanism. Climbing, of course, was the real instrument of change at that point in my life: at age 20 or so, I finally became so disgusted with myself that I quit smoking, went vegetarian, dropped the baby fat (40 fucking pounds of it) and finally had a basic awakening, the kind that some people have 10 years earlier. By thinking that I was awake, I could at least halt the damage I was doing to myself. Climbing, even in the gym, became gospel. I got a little better at it and then I went to Joshua Tree and got my naive little mind blown. High as a kite on good smoke and the place, I careened through the desert night, lost but ecstatic; the 'eye of the universe', a giant winter halo around the near-full Moon, watched as I molted and shook off the skin of the past, gasping for breath as I ran wide-eyed through the landscape. I slept in the dirt and woke up at dawn each day, invigorated. I met people who didn't seem to give a flying fuck about worldly status. When we drove out of what then was Joshua Tree National Monument and saw the city lights once again, I almost cried at the absolute horror it provoked in me. I resolved to forget neither the experience nor the feelings invoked thereof.

Of course, underneath each shed layer there is something new but also something old and unavoidable: oneself. There have been checks and balances to climbing's rise to prominence in my life and unavoidably so. Despite my practiced nonchalance, a lover years ago saw right through and told me that I was cocky but not truly confident. Although loathe to give her that much power over me, I was thoroughly shaken by it. How could it be that something that made me feel so amazing didn't translate efficiently into other areas of my life? True confidence is something that I have yet to achieve. Climbing continues to be the only (yes, the only) thing in my life that I feel good at--and I'm not really that good at it, just pretty good. My injury after months of feeling really strong and happy about where climbing was taking me has thrown me back into a tailspin (although to be fair the rest of my life has been in the same tailspin for years anyway). I went from 100 to zero in all the time it takes to hit a brick wall and it's impossible not to feel a little perturbed. Most of this stems from an idea that I hold that these things often happen 'for a reason'. I don't want to jump into the philosophical abyss of pre-destination and causality because it's not really what I'm thinking about; it's more a question of intent, wherein something like the imbalance present in the rest of my life is allowed to sabotage an area of confidence. I suppose it could be called karma. Is there reason in it? I'm not sure. In this case reason is instilled after the fact and can become progress or regress dependent completely upon mentality. It is easy for me, as stated above, to sink into self-loathing and doubt based on patterns from my past. The other option is more difficult for me but involves simply accepting that whether or not any a priori statement can be made about purpose or causality, the event occurred. The injury happened. It seems so simple conceptually but for me it is the most complex notion to grasp. Acceptance involves being awake, I think; a posteriori, these events are bell-like in nature, emitting tones to encourage attention and focus. Whether they are heard is a personal choice.

In conclusion? I can conclude nothing from this except to add observation. Chasing grades was (and still is) better than chasing cigarettes down to the filters. Although I still allow myself to play the drunken fool occasionally, I no longer hide in garages with three or four others to down a fifth of vodka before going in to the party. I am learning to enjoy climbing for what it is rather than what I think it should be. I have by no means completed this particular lesson. I still suffer from fits of ego and braggadocio. I dwell in the past, in times that when I am at my worst I see as my zenith but in reality were merely high points on a road. I hesitate to even post this publicly because it is a private journal, mundane and self-serving in nature, with emphasis on the mundane. Even a personal blog is public and perhaps someone can find some sort of resonance within. That is my hope as I click the publish button on yet another little vanilla, soft-core striptease from the life of Andrew. Enjoy.

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