A few weeks ago, I’d overheard someone say, “Climbing is a young man’s game.”
A slow panic crept in slowly as I started wondering what that meant. I mean, I’m not getting any younger over here, and in July I had broken my foot, which took me out of the game for three months. That was ninety some-odd days of thinking about climbing and not being able to. I half-jokingly said to my boyfriend many times, “I don’t think I’m a rock climber anymore!”
Climbing is a young man’s game—maybe, it’s true. I’ve often heard people say that they wished they had started climbing at Ashima Shiraishi’s age. (And maybe if you had, you too would have tendons made of kevlar.) I didn’t start climbing until my mid-twenties, and it never really felt like I found rock climbing; it always felt like it found me.
I spent a lot of my time since then searching for something. But lately, I don’t feel the same compulsive itch to be rushing off to go climbing as I used to—there isn’t a fire in my belly like before. Those are strange words to hear out loud because nothing in my life has replaced climbing, and I still love it, more than ever before. During my recovery, I felt like I had everything that a person should need to be happy.
Maybe it really is just a young man’s game, or maybe it’s obsession that is the young man’s game. Maybe I am getting older and further away from both, and what it means to me has changed—or I’m the one who is changing. I’m okay with either one being true. Maybe, it is just one of an infinite amount of avenues to a happy, well-tended life. I’m still climbing and still looking, and regardless of age, life should keep us pondering, dreaming, and constantly scheming. Because the big secret that nobody tells you is that the pursuit IS happiness.