How come I didn’t write about my afternoon at the climbing wall in Kendal? Can’t for the life of my remember now. Perhaps I was overcome with shyness, perhaps I thought everyone would laugh? Afterall there were ten-year-old girls practically running up the wall I was so stoked to have climbed! I was hugely proud of myself, and even prouder that Austin was proud of me!
It taught me a lot. I know now why climbing books sell so well, why Joe Simpson and Andy Kirkpatrick are so avidly read. It isn’t all about the climbing, it’s because climbing is a metaphor for life. You don’t jump from the bottom of a mountain to the top. You take it painstaking step by painstaking step and it’s scary, and it’s hard work, and it’s an overwhelming buzz when you finally make it. Okay what I did wasn’t probably even the first rung of the ladder, but it was an inspiration!
So is travel: you have to plan, miss buses, wait for planes, put up with surly people, dirt, loneliness, boredom but the good stuff makes it all worthwhile, like reaching the top of the mountain (or the climbing wall!) the buzz you get from experiencing new places, trying new foods, meeting new people, learning about different lifestyles, being overawed by the planet’s beauty is beyond words.
It seems to me that modern life just makes us so comfortable that we lose touch with “real” life, with actually living, experiencing life, instead we watch other people’s pathetic lives on reality tv, grab another ready-made meal and get drunk every weekend to forget how boring our lives are – at least a lot of people do that, and I am more than aware that I’m talking about those of us who are lucky enough to have been born into “western” society. Living a “real” life in Mumbai or the middle of the Sahel simply means surviving sometimes. I know that, and not that I mind my share of wine, nor a good movie, but we shouldn’t expect things to come to us easily.
We have to seek, work at/for, plan, and most of all challenge our perceptions (mostly of ourselves) if we want the buzz. We have to do that bit extra, go that bit farther, dream that bit bigger.
This is what I learned from “climbing,” and also from traveling. The traveling thing I was born knowing, but became more of a challenge in doing it on my own. I had to conquer shyness and my own self-doubts.
I’m very lucky to have two sons who encourage me. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be blogging now, and I would never have climbed the wall. I am incredibly grateful to them both for their inspirations.
Yesterday was my birthday, and I had my first surf lesson! I never got off my stomach, lying on the board and spent more time in the water than on the board I think! Unlike the climbing I doubt it’s something I will try again, but it still taught me things – if at first you don’t succeed try, try again for one! Even on my stomach for about a half a minute I finally “got it” – at least I think I did! That rush that comes when you feel as if you are flying over the water. Also, I hadn’t been for more than a gentle swim in quite a while, and I tend to get a bit nervous, unlike my sons, swimming never came naturally to me, so it was good to regain confidence.
Biggest lesson from yesterday, though? It was fun!!! I think with all the worries brought on by the recession and stuff, I’d forgotten what it was like to have pure fun! And it was good! Happy birthday to me!