In 2014, I wrote: “Sometimes, we have to take our plans and scrap them. Start from the beginning, wherever that may be. Lose that control. That was what moving to Brooklyn was for me. Climbing was my new chapter, and Brooklyn helped me find it. I don’t want to fall into that trap again. You know, doing things because they make me feel safe. It’s important to have a plan (and then sometimes plan B), but more important to always be ready for the unseen obstacles that inevitably come our way. And hopefully when those obstacles come, know that it’s okay to tear down the walls and forget the tough guy act for a little while, let your ego step aside and learn to be more vulnerable.”
Six months between then and now, and I’ve learned that there is no plan B.
I’ve got a good support system, though: those who have been with me since I tied my first figure eight, the ones I have met on the road and then, of course, the ones who can still remember when I was climbing out of my second-floor window in high school and scaling buildings downtown. There really is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some test you, some will use you and, if you’re lucky, some will teach you. But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.
Jared O’Brien, Ryan Smith, and Jeremiah Cooke spent three days at Shelf Road (including Christmas eve and day) climbing beautiful limestone in the blazing sun. I didn’t believe it when I was told that you can rock climb year round in Colorado, but it’s true.
We made haste to the Bank where Jared recalled one of his favorite sport 11s, #1 Super Guy. I tackled the amazing roof (the adrenaline pumping, feet cutting, “hero clipping” kind) after making my way up the beginning (a bit delicate but fun).
Ryan is just beginning to experience and enjoy the nuances of rope climbing. On an interesting adventure in the Moab a few weeks ago, after a bail and a good laugh, Ryan and Jared joked about “paying the piper”. This is something most climbers probably know all too well.
They basically got shut down on their climb, but the way that Ryan talked about it, you would never know that it bothered him. He was just happy to have gotten out for a day in the desert with his good friend, and his desire to go back and conquer the crack was strong.
He said to me: “I’d rather go to sleep in the dirt if it means I get to wake up and see the best sunrise of my life.” And isn’t that what it’s about? I hope we never get to a point in our lives where we only go for the send and forget about sunrises.
597 miles and a new set of snow tires later, I found myself in Zion National Park for the first time—a place that words cannot even begin to describe. The beauty, the openness, the quality of sandstone routes all took my breath away. Even in the middle of winter, covered in snow and frost, I was left speechless standing beneath its walls of orange and earth brown and black.
The most important thing I am learning on this trip is that it’s okay to fall apart for a little while. I think we all spend too much time trying to convince ourselves that we need to be strong when we really just need to be ourselves. I came out here with no hope or agenda, and within that, I have found myself falling apart, letting go, and putting the pieces back together all at once. I am taking things slowly and moving in the direction I am meant to, I think.
So as I cool my heels in the desert for a little while, I will work on confrontation with myself. I cannot change what I refuse to confront. I’m not going to run away from my problems and face them head on. Easier said than done! I am realizing that there is no single person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them, but we aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems. That’s not how we’re made. The whole purpose of living is to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.
“Sometimes, we have to take our plans and scrap them. Start from the beginning, wherever that may be.” Today, my beginning is right where I’m standing; I can’t do anything more than start from there. And if I’ve been guilty of worrying too much about the direction I am heading in, then it is my new goal to worry less and stop overlooking the beauty of the small moments. One day, I may look back on my life and discover that they were actually the big ones.