Sarah Jane Alexander - Reader Blog 5

Climbing melts away Sarah’s cares. Photo by Jenna Lange.

Climbing melts away Sarah’s cares. Photo by Jenna Lange.

“Sarah? Hello?”

The voice of my climbing bro Alvaro snapped me out my daze.

“Oh, hey, dude. I didn't see you.”

Then I realized I had trudged into the gym head down, staring at my feet. That’s not like me. I usually walk head held high, eyes gleaming, huge smile blazing.

“What’s going on?” Alvaro asked, concern thick in his voice.

“I’m trying to keep my head together. But I’m worried. My job just announced how many people are going to be laid off.”

About one-quarter of the people in my department are going. But we don’t know when the company will announce who goes. We are walking around with somber expressions – a lot like the one I wore into the gym.

Logically, I know worrying is worse than useless; it’s counterproductive and exhausting. But I wasn’t using my logic when I sunk into a depressive stupor worrying about how my life will change if I lose my job. I let the worst emotion – fear – hijack my thoughts, taking me to terrible places.

I told myself to shake it off and climb.

As I was putting on my gear, I heard a guy ask his friend: “What do you like about climbing?”

She thought for a moment then replied: “I can’t think about anything else when I’m climbing.”

Her answer stuck in my mind as I silently agreed.

“Hey, Alvaro, can you belay me on a crack?” I asked.

My crack technique needs a lot of work, so I worked it.

While I focused on how to best jam my hands and where to stick my feet, there was no thinking about résumés, down economies, marketable skills. Only staying balanced mattered.

After a rewardingly tiring practice, joy had reclaimed my soul. The mental break from worrying resurrected my smile.

Climbing helped me remember that the key to happiness is staying present in every moment. When I daze off into worrying, my world turns ugly fast.

If I exercise the faith to fully embrace this lesson, it will be one of climbing’s greatest gifts to me.

Happily, I can’t think of any way to embrace it more than by climbing.

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