The Thaw

Sun? Aside from my trip to Vegas and Utah in March/April, I, like so many others in Seattle, haven't seen the flaming sky circle so perennially mysterious to us Northwesterners much at all in the past six months (alright, so I had +/- two months of it in CA last Fall/Winter and a month of it this spring; whatever). What betokeneth such an omen as this, the appearance of mighty Sol in the sky over Washington on an almost daily basis? Even the most rainfucked reaches of the Earth (like western Washington) have to dry out at some point. Since it hardly ever freezes around here in the winter, it's a technical faux pas to call it a thaw as it's actually an evaporation; regardless, the appearance is akin to the former, as people collectively shuffle off the sluggishness of winter and slowly realize that hiding in dank cellar-like bars behind overly hoppy beers is not their sole purpose on this Earth. Actual skin is seen, although it is mostly of a ghastly white color completely incongruous with it being part of a living human. That's just how we roll around here...

...and I'm fucking sick of it. Finally. It only took 30 years. I'm tired of living in a now-swank (it wasn't really when I was growing up in it) neighborhood that I can't really afford in an overpriced city full of arrogant, standoffish 30-somethings with too much money, foppish, irritating hipsters and a weather pattern that would bum out an ounce of cocaine. But hey, in all seriousness: it could be worse. Not that it really helps to bust out that well-ridden truism at every opportunity, but so be it. I still can't believe I've lived in the same neighborhood for almost 31 years. You'd think I was from rural Oklahoma except that I occasionally travel more than 50 statute miles from home.

Anyway, I've been experiencing this strange combination of phenomena lately: good weather, painless rock climbing and the chance to see a lot of really good people that I haven't seen much of in the past few years. How is this possible? It's called driving to Leavenworth! The last couple of weekends there have been absolutely kick-ass. A few weeks ago I was knee deep in the muck of a pretty significant spell of hopelessness. I believe I've chronicled a few such events here, much to the chagrin of anyone unfortunate enough to read whatever hackneyed jingus I vomit onto the interwebs. To be more succinct than usual: injured finger; unemployed/unemployable (it just gets worse the longer it goes on); gastritis (stomach lining inflamed; haven't had coffee in three weeks and am on the wagon with the booze as well); unfavorable living situation. Naturally, one or more of these has/have been the source of some stress in my life of late. I've never been good at dealing with stress, but now that it's clearly becoming endemic in my life I find myself with a peculiar motivation to find a remedy. I went east one weekend just to hang out in the sun and discovered that I can climb again with little consequence. Not that everything is entirely mended, but it finally seems like a necessary risk to try to rehab my finger. Now of course, being who I am, I am seldom able to just 'take it easy', even when I should know better: I quickly found myself projecting boulder problems again, just like that. Trying hard (for me) moves over and over again until the skin on my fingertips was gone was truly a beacon of hope, however: I thrashed around on rock formations of unimpressive height and had a blast. Best of all, my finger didn't hate me afterwards, at least not for more than a day or two.

I've managed two of these blissful weekends in a row now. When things seem especially grim and I'm consistently and intractably unhappy, it's easy to forget that not everyone is feeling like that. People actually exude positive energy sometimes, energy that can be uplifting and inspiring. My blog is a pretty accurate portrait of my personality, unfortunately: 100% Andrew and as such, filled with sarcasm, doubt, negativity, inappropriate language, self-effacement and bile. I often think I would prefer it to be more polished and publishable, full of delightful witticisms and surgically incisive prose that cuts through the fat to the kernel of meaning underneath, clear as a bell. When I think about what I've read lately (especially in 'the mags'), I realize most of it has nothing to do with insight or clarity and everything to do with keeping up with the Joneses (of climbing). There's no market for introspection or reflection unless it's linked to some 'sick badassery'. Instead, a too-cool-for-school, 'I'm so irreverent' voice soundly dominates. Throw in some brotastic phrases and employ some self-righteous sleight of hand and call it article-worthy. OK, so not all the climbing writing these days is like that (just most of it); might as well play fair, I suppose. I don't really have any proof of what I'm saying anyway, but I think that the blatantly dismissive and sarcastic editorials and the relentless focus on the 'progression' of climbing as a sport are part of a sadly pointless search for meaning that is a sign of our times if anything is. I find this feeling of pointlessness spilling over into everything but it is especially obvious in the way we communicate. Facebook has made obvious the realm of 'instantaneous meaninglessness' that we are beginning more and more to inhabit.

And how did I get from 'blissful' to this? Well, in part because I can say whatever the fuck I want here. So there. I've definitely typed my way down a rabbit hole of confusion here so I will attempt to salvage something from it. What I'm saying is that it's too damn easy to get caught up in this idea that meaning is dead and that the only answer is to veil everything relentlessly in platitudes that fill space but have little value. The 'Corn Flakes' of life, these phrases, thoughts and habitual actions are mere bromides, meant to distract and placate but not to effect any insight or betterment. Some of this is personal, of course: my life is woefully out of balance and that tends to bias me towards a slightly more dark and stormy view of things. Still, though, there is a general current towards apathy and a sort of 'practiced ennui' that is far too easy to get sucked into. Sink or swim, shit or get off the pot, fish or cut bait. Whatever clever little binomial phrase you want to use, it's probably true: gotta do something, whether it's progress or not; there is no such thing as doing nothing. As for the balance I so badly desire? It's probably there; I just need to shuffle a few things around before it weighs out the way I want it to. And spending a few days a week in a sunny place with some good folk and some pebbles to wrestle definitely doesn't hurt either.

1 comment:

  1. it was GREAT to climb with you these last weekends... I'm working on getting some fly-fishing gear for us to play with once I'm done with school