By Corey J. Theodore
When most people think of dangling from a rope about seventy feet above the ground, they think of the panic and fear that would cripple them virtually useless. I’m not like most people, and at seventy feet dangling from a rope, panic is the last thing that comes into my mind. I think of the peace, how quiet it is when I’m up so high, taking a deep breath and coughing up all the chalk that is floating around. To most people, Carabiner’s is just another building that they drive by, wondering what the inside looks like and telling themselves that they should visit one day. But to me, it is a building that holds challenges both old and new. It is a portal to ancient feelings that my ancestors faced and a wonderful place to push myself and see the earth and its inhabitants in their full glory, twenty meters below me.
When the average man walks in the front doors for the first time, he does not realize the gym’s true potential. He has no idea what the gym can do for him, or what’s in store. He has a certain look on his face. Everyone, male or female, has the exact same look. I had it my first time, and if any of you stop by, you can be sure that you will too. There is a second and third look as well. The second is a mix of panic and terror. This is when visitors realizes that they will soon be up that high, dangling from a thin rope just like all the crazy people up there on the wall. I can’t blame them, for it is exceptionally high and a lot to take in for a new climber. This is when I tell them that they are not in fact going to die, and that it is much more fun than it looks to them. And with that, the third face is shown, one of relief and skepticism.
The problem with people these days is that they are afraid to just climb. They are afraid to leave everything, every problem, every worry, and every care they have behind them and just climb. No need for a reason, no need for inspiration, those are only bonuses; they can make the experience even more incredible, but it is not necessary to have them. It’s when you just climb, for no reason at all, that you learn something about yourself. You reach a hard move, or one that you haven’t been able to do before, and instead of feeling that panic, instead of your body tensing with fear, you relax. You breathe.
You do not think about where you are going for dinner afterwards, or that your birthday is coming up. You simply grip tighter; feel your fingers bite the hold as it bites you back, but the pain isn’t difficult. It comforts you in a way that only you can understand, almost as if it makes you realize that you exist, that if you feel the pain it makes you real. You push, and your fingers explode, each tendon screaming for you to let go, calling your name in agony and begging to be relieved, but you don’t answer it. You can’t even hear it, for you are far too focused on the task at hand: getting higher. And once you get higher, you go higher still, until you can’t go any higher, and you think again. You think that the only thing holding you to the wall is a couple of bolts, or you think that your fingers hurt very badly.
No one sees this as they first walk through the doors. They do not even consider anything like this. All that they see is a really high wall, and no skills to conquer it. It is a problem that many of us face throughout our lives. We see a giant wall, and no way to get over it. But every once in a while, we amaze ourselves with skills we never knew we had. I see it all the time: the screams and shouts of people who surprised themselves, the yells of pure joy, pure ecstasy. That is what the wall is all about. It isn’t the fact that you made it to the top. It’s the fact that you had to push yourself the entire way up.