I breathe deeply as I tie my knot, looping the rope the same way that I always do, dressing it carefully so that its layers lie comfortably amongst themselves, the lengths all perfect, the tension equal. I sit down to put on my shoes, left first, pulling the velcro taught and flexing my toes against the rubber, then the right, moving laterally in my ritual as if reading whatever it is my body has to say. It is the same each and every time and it is a process, one that I take slowly and with care not to rush. The moment I step off of the ground I am attempting to enter a unique space within myself, one of focus and calm, and if I rush to get there and end up throwing open its door, then I risk having that echo through my mind until I am back on the dirt.
The climbing psyche is delicate, or at least mine is – the slightest imbalance in my temperament will greatly affect my functioning, the day’s butterfly wings creating a storm somewhere much further away, somewhere less tangible. And the chaos of the mind is constant, unable to be avoided. The brain’s radio chatter and our learned receptivity to the infinite stimulus of the 21st century often times push quiet out of reach. Thus the true joy that I find in climbing: yes, the fluidity of movement, the beautiful places, the communing with nature, the feats of strength… they are all great impetus, but soothing the burn of my overactive sanity and finding a calm that I have never known is what pushes me ever higher.