Left hand to sidepull. Step the feet through and move right hand to edge. Left hand to edge. Left foot up and cross-body tension move right hand to edge. Left hand to crimpcharles. Feet high and press right hand to gastondercling block thing. Left foot up and cross through to big undercling. Grab jug. I am completing what must be my 40th or 50th redpoint of Chronic at Little Si. The deja-vu is palpable, the grade has dropped consistently and somehow I am still climbing on this route after perhaps ten years of climbing in the Northwest. Why seek adventure when you can pedantically perfect one single route?
Words are wind. That seemed at first parse some wonderful if slightly campy shred of wisdom I'd heard somewhere shaking some cobwebs off nearby neurons and making a cameo. It's really a phrase from George R. R. Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series and I suppose that needn't necessarily disqualify it as wisdom. Cliche perhaps, but then so many of those pesky little phrases-of-ill-repute hold little kernels of truth in their overused shells.
The wind blows strong through this blog, of course. It tends to reave sentence and paragraph of any purpose, leaving naught but the underpinnings of intent. Of course, what purpose inherent might there be in the bandying of words here? While some bloggers clearly effect both thematic precision and seamless continuity, I find it bewildering to do so here. Often enough there is precious little continuity to be had and if there is it's in little pockets of quietude in the midst of the tempest. Life is never simple enough for me to feel that having a streamlined 'climbing' blog, as I often like to envision, is improbable and even dishonest; climbing, despite being the alpha and omega and a lot of the in between in my life, still can't comprise the whole. It's fun to be immersed, even for a week or two, in the climbing aesthetic but it doesn't complete the balance in my life. What actually does, I can only continue to guess at this point; climbing well comes far more easily to me than living well as a whole and I continue to suffer for it. Perhaps there are others who find themselves in this same limbo, this dissatisfying area 'in-between' stability and limitless free time (but scarcity of resources). For those of us who dwell on the issue ceaselessly but fail to take action for one reason or another, I imagine the feeling of imbalance is more acute.
What sort of balance is in question here? Not the balance proposed by this kind of bullshit quackery, of course; a far less esoteric but still elusive lifestyle balance is what I'm thinking about, but what exactly is at the root of being athwart this type of harmony? I pondered this yesterday as I plodded my way up Chronic. I wasn't really thinking about it while I was climbing, but as I talk to more and more people and have to answer the same dreaded question, the one where they ask me "What are you doing these days?" (pertaining, apparently, to work, life, etc), it becomes more clear that I don't have the compelling answer that they want to hear and that I would be happy to give them. It would be easy to say that I just rock climb if that were true; if I had truly stripped my existence down to the bare essentials required to live a life on the road and climb I probably wouldn't be fielding this same question as often. The real mismatch here is maintaining a life in the city with no real impetus for being here other than habit and perceived convenience. It doesn't really make a whole lot of sense.
Back at Little Si, I take an end of the day lap up Extended Illness and pump out at the end of the crux, whipping daintily to the end of the rope and chuckle to myself. I have had this exact day at least twice or thrice before, with almost this exact order of routes climbed: a warmup on Technorigine that feels overly ambitious but strangely comfortable; a muscle memory fitness check on Chronic (.11d?); a couple of other outlying routes; one final 'to failure' burn on something harder. It all makes sense, I think to myself as I pull the rope through the fixed azure permadraws, sweating in the strangely oppressive humidity of the Cascade foothills at twilight.
Earlier this year this constant sameness culminated in what seemed like a simple choice: change. Yet I find myself in the same place again with a much murkier outlook. What was so clear before was made so by overcoming a lame self-imposed inertia. How is it so hard to break? I haven't found the answers. I do know that I'm well chuffed at being able to climb at all and doing a few classics at Si for the first time in a year is better still. Paradoxically, this silly repetition might even be an answer of sorts to some of these life quandaries: when the level of similitude reaches such a critical point, one iota of change seems an adventure in itself.