A gym climber is among the freakiest of all vertical freaks.
Our rewards are narrow, but we are unwaveringly obsessed.The easy beauty of songbirds expressing their joy does not grace our ears. We are lucky if we can stand whatever music pours from the gym speakers. Nurturing sunbeams do not warm our skin; sickly fake light radiates from the ceiling. Refreshing wind doesn’t caress our faces. The fans either blast us cold or aren’t strong enough to dry our sweat. The divine union of hands grasping rocks is but a memory as we cover our palms in chalk, trying to grip the oily holds. But we keep coming back.
Not for the literal highs – watching the trees become smaller and smaller below us as we ascend to the blue heavens. But because we are tormented by the routes of human creation we couldn’t complete and deeply satisfied by the puzzles we piece together. Many a day have I left the gym irritated with myself for not trying hard enough or not eating enough to stay fueled. Standing in the way of my own success. But analyzing my miniature failures unveils overreaching self-improvement. I hone my body, mind and soul during California's chilly winters, during the workweeks, during Fresno's scorching summers – indoors. Gym skills are different from rock skills. Either way, I stay strong. I remain balanced inside and out. I kick it with my homies and laugh.
As long as I am happy, it doesn't matter where I am. That realization has evaporated my needless shame of gym climbing. When I was a total noob, I felt the glorious release of meeting myself; realizing my soul was the sky, the rocks, the trees, the wind, the earth. So I started to feel a little dirty when climbing indoors. But after all laughter shared with my belay buddies at the gym; after swapping the stories of our lives, our disappointments and dreams; after feeling the joy of increasingly instinctual ascension, I realize the gym is as holy as the bejeweled earth. The love within is the same as the love without.
There is no better place to be than on the cutting edge of me, whether pulling plastic or returning, exhausted, to the car as the sun sets on my back.
Natural healing from the earth, www.mymoxxor.com/alexander
For more from Sarah Jane Alexander visit her website: time2climb.com
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