Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Climbing Rocks.

My fingers are very angry with me tonight. I've subjected them to unusual punishment because something has recently come over me that I can't quite describe. I've discovered rock climbing. I dabbled a little bit in college and then dropped it altogether for about four years. I went to a local climbing gym in October and the next thing I knew, I was buying rock shoes and a membership to Sport Climbing Center.

Climbing gets in your blood and once it's there, you're toast. Every day brings a new challenge, and it's hard. Mental discipline, the fear factor, and strengthening my stick arms have all been part of the package. And in the car on the way to climb, I select the right music and then start mentally going through the problem I'm currently working on. It's weird. And sometimes I don't sleep well because I'm climbing in my head. It's embarrassing... sort of.

The best part of all is that it's a sport surrounded by comrades. You have no enemies, only friends. I came in knowing nothing and looking like a fool. Now I know a lot more and have a dozen personal coaches who, once upon a time, started exactly where I started. And what's not to love about a place that pushes you forward while supporting and encouraging the whole way? Worth its weight in gold.

Gym chalk, sore fingers and toes, and the downtown Mountain Chalet have all become familiar over the last two months. And I happen to live in The Wild Colorado, home to some of the best climbing in the country. It's going to be a fun year.

Insane, Chris Sharma. Insane.

Almost more remarkable than the climbing is the life application, particularly to my Christianity. The most obvious would be the rock itself. Need I say more? All throughout Scripture, God is compared to a rock, a refuge, a fortress. He is solid, sure, and steady, able to support all my weight. When I approach the rock correctly and move the way I've been taught, I can finish the climb. Also, you climb the level at which you are able to climb. Beginning climbers generally can't complete or even start advanced climbs. But they can watch advanced climbers and learn by observation and by working on the climbs that are, to them, challenging but manageable. In the same way, we will never be asked to face something in life for which we are not capable of handling. And of course, there's the comradery. No one can do this alone. On a difficult climb, you need a spotter. On a first climb, you often need someone who's climbed it before to tell you how to do it and watch you as you go. It's the best way to improve.

And the last application to life: you can't always explain why. Someone asked me if I get bored climbing. I didn't know how to answer. Someone asked me what I like about climbing. I fumbled my way through an explanation. You can't force someone to get it, or to like it, but you know with everything in you that it's something you can't get enough of.

I confess, climbing has cut into my writing time. Seriously. I love both, so we're just going to have to work something out here.

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