I used to believe that things had to be done a certain way—to get to point B, you start from point A. You move in a linear progression and follow the proper guidelines and stay within the parameters to get there.

And you can, and you will, but that’s just one way of doing it.

I found my small place in the community living in NYC but I couldn’t really understand the vastness of it then. Climbing was so shiny and new to me. It was a way for me to relate to the rest of the world and it became an anchor when I began getting swept away by the madness of city living. Working became the thing I did between climbing days, to rest my body and make a little money.

I have never wanted to do things halfway. I’ve expressed some interest in different areas, but I have never loved anything in the same way. I look at other people who are passionate about things (such as playing a sport or creating art or music). It’s always got to be about pushing past the status quo and reaching that peak, going into a total oblivion, where you can eventually reemerge and transcend. I need that constant upward trend, and the fight to get there.

The problem is that sometimes passion distracts you. Everything else in my life got put on the wayside. Friends who weren’t climbers saw less and less of me and climbing was the only thing I could think about when I wasn’t forced to think about other things. Upon each return home, I would already be packing for the next venture before unpacking from the previous one. I didn’t have things like a marriage or kids to “hold me back” and the freedom of knowing I could go anywhere at any given time was intoxicating.

I joked once, saying that if I lived in a climbing town, I’d have to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

So, does it fall under the category of irony that even though climbing gives us a sense of identity, it’s also possible to submerge yourself to the point of losing a sense of self?

Three weeks in Africa awakened something in me that I’d long forgotten about. I think that I was originally looking for a rich experience to change me, mold me, and perhaps help point me in the right direction. I was looking to leave full, but my time spent in Africa left me hungrier than before. It whetted my appetite for something that I was starving for and didn’t even know. Everyone keeps asking me: “What’s the plan?” and I chuckle because there is no plan; there never really was.

I thought it was impossible to tell a story without climbing. But stories are experiences that connect with people—and I want to connect with people. I don’t want to just live in a world and scrape by with the bare minimum. I want to taste it and swim in it and climb its mountains and experience everything to its absolute limit (whatever that means).

The story we are all crafting is because we continuously make a conscious decision to search for and create rich experiences. You share your story by choosing to live life. Tell it gently, say it with vigor, and make it known. Each story is so beautifully unique, whether it’s heard by one person or a thousand.

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