Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The Climbing Metaphor

I climb. By the way. I go rock climbing every Tuesday evening at my local leisure centre and participate in a junior club where I learn the do's and don'ts of climbing. I love it. I love it because everyone there is particularly nice and non judgemental people, it pushes me to personal physical limits that I may not reach on other occasions, I am encouraged to try extra hard by people who genuinely care and I always come away feeling alive and buzzing. I'm not the best, I'm not even close to being the best, but that doesn't matter because it's all about your personal ambition and ability and no one has the right to interfere. Even when I've been close to quitting, I never have because the pure thrill I receive from going climbing beats almost anything.

The reason I am informing you of this seemingly irrelevant part of my free time, is because I believe it has very similar attributes to life. Climbing, therefore, is a very tiring metaphor.
These are the aspects that I am personally convinced should be used as a general template for varying occurrences of your time on Earth;

a) Be friendly with everyone, all the time. I don't know the entirety of the climbing population so this may be just my experience of the sport but it's still quite a nice objective anyway. Everyone I've met through the activity has been kind to me, involved me in conversation, called me pet names, cracked jokes with me, showed encouragement or support or just simply smiled politely. It doesn't matter how long I've known the individual, I've always been shown hospitality.
  Now, of course, this advice does not include certain members of the population who you possibly don't want to be friends with as their company could endanger your life or wellbeing, but these, fortunately are a very small percentage of us humans therefore being friendly with almost everyone is nearly entirely possible. Like, maybe it's a good idea to stay clear of the axe murderer who escaped from prison and has just knocked down your door with a blood lust look in his eyes, but it is a very good idea to stay friendly with your next door neighbour. Even if he gives you dirty looks for that time you broke his greenhouse with the football, taking no notice and smiling anyway will annoy him all the more, so it's basically a win win situation.

b) Always try your hardest, and stay committed. This one's pretty obvious and is already well known and widely used, but within climbing particularly it's quite hard not to do what you know your body is capable of. It's your brain that's the issue. Commitment is the most important factor of the climbing sport. There's no doubt that being 11 metres up a wall with just a rope between you and your death, or severe injury, and clinging on to a teeny hold that only your finger tips can fit on and being shouted at to just "stand up and reach" for another hold that is more than your arm's length away is a more than daunting prospect. What you need to do is just trust yourself and commit to the climb and you will find that, even if after more than one try, you will complete the climb and you will feel amazing.
Breaking that barrier in your mind down is a task that everyone has to face in an infinite array of everyday events. It is never anything or anyone else that is stopping you from reaching your goal, it is you and you alone. Always give it your best shot and even if that formidable block in your brain appears, stay committed and try over and over again until eventually it breaks down and you find you can do what ever you desire.

and finally,

c) Encourage yourself and others, to do what you love. The sheer amount of support I've received from my climbing centre is inspiring. I feel completely accepted, and although I don't always do things correctly (almost always actually) I've just been told that I've done well to try, to pick myself up, and to try all over again. I'm not perfect at climbing, although I adore it, but perfection is a nonexistent attribute to doing what you love, passion is really the only thing you need. I've been encouraged by my instructors and friends to continue this hobby of mine and they provide that little push that you need carry on no matter what issues arise.
If you have an ambition or desire, you'd expect others to support and encourage you to carry it out thus you must also reverse your role to when others need your help, to be there in the background with t-shirts and banners screaming 'YOU CAN DO IT!' as they struggle on through the numerous hurdles to the perfect paradise that is success.

Climbing isn't the only sport where you can discover rather wonderful advice for living, and it certainly isn't the only place where you can find these guidelines. Always, always do what you love with the people you love in the places you love. And search for hidden metaphors in daily aspects, for you may find that what you discover is the way in which you want to continue living and that, in itself, is pretty bloody powerful.