Greg Burns - Reader Blog 3

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Greg Burns in action on Kor

Greg Burns in action on Kor

Today, I need to climb

It’s no use. There’s so much turmoil in my life at the moment that it almost isn’t worth dealing with it all until something settles down. But then there’s the pressure knowing that if I don’t buckle down and deal with it all, all at once, that there will be missed opportunities that could affect me for years to come. Last year I decided to make a monumental change in my life. I decided to quit my job by the end of 2009 and become a full-time writer. I was unfazed by the obstacles of living without an income for a year and writing in a dying genre (literary fiction). The pressure to actually do something right for once was miniscule because this decision was so right that it had to be safe. I’ve felt that calming feeling in my heart when I’ve made good decisions before, and this time the feeling went beyond calming to confident, worriless, and surety.

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I’m still going, but as the time gets nearer, as the clarity of the obstacles becomes stronger, I’m getting too anxious to remain calm. Work is uncertain because I don’t know when exactly I’ll be leaving it. Money is tight because I don’t know how much more I need to save or spend to make everything come together. I’ve got one family member dying with brain cancer, and I might not be around when he goes. I have another family member who raised me and was as warm to me as any person I’ve ever known who doesn’t want me to leave. How do I say no to her? It’s heartbreaking for sure, and I’ll be crushed if she goes when I’m gone, too.And how do I explain to my father, probably my best friend in the world, that I’m leaving a well-paid job at a world-class institution for poverty and happiness when he, the best at what he does that I’ve ever known, is getting older and is fighting off poverty himself as the economy sinks his industry at the same time his body is failing him. “The good times don’t last forever,” he told me. “There’s nothing wrong with taking what you have.” I love my dad. He supports me in my endeavor. He admits that he’s more afraid of me being away than he is of me failing. In fact, he wishes he had done something similar to what I’ve doing when he was younger. In his warning he also said that if there was ever a time to do this, then now is it.

Burns in Eldorado Canyon. Photo by Jeremiah MeizisCheck out pkasco

Burns in Eldorado Canyon. Photo by Jeremiah MeizisCheck out pkasco

But the haunting continues to build. If I fight through all the stress then I’ll come out way ahead. I know this is true, but is the fighting worth the stress? What is the cost of today for tomorrow? Am I killing myself slowly now so that I’ll be in position to stand up and take the real punches when things get tougher down the line? A few weeks ago on my regular blog I wrote about my passionless weekend of climbing. I suspected then that I was reaching a point where all of my focuses would shift from who I used to be to whom I want to become. I didn’t care about climbing that weekend. It was just another weekend away from the chaos. It was the escape I’ve so passionately longed for in the past, except this time it was only an escape. There were no results, no breathing deeply, no forgetting the world, and no coming back relieved and refreshed. I didn’t give a shit. I just went because that is what I do to get away. Well, this weekend I need to go climbing. You see, there’s more to the story. Climbing isn’t just an escape; it’s also a way to flip off the rest of the world. I love how non-climbers shriek in fear when I tell them I’m a climber. It doesn’t make me feel more like a man, per se, but it does make me feel as if I’m capable of ignoring society’s noise of always having to do the right thing, as if they know better what I should do, as if their risk assessment should be my own. “You must be insane!” I’ve heard that a hundred times before. Well isn’t. Climbers know full well that it isn’t. But with all this chaos surrounding me, with all of the insanity of having to deal with life, being able to go climbing when the rest of the world is screaming at me to do something worthwhile, well, it just feels right.

Greg shares a Blog with his friend Jeremiah "Jello" Meizis. Click here to see Greg and Jeremiah's Climbing Blog. Click here for Greg's Route Index