In 1998, a friend of mine took me to Stoneworks gym to try rock climbing for the first time. I had always been interested in climbing and sure enough, from that day forward I was hooked. To me, rock climbing is the perfect sport. It is equal parts physical and mental challenge. It takes you off the beaten path to some amazing places. And it requires complete focus. When I’m climbing, my entire world is the few square feet of rock right in front of me.
Since that first trip to the gym, there have been very few weeks when I haven’t climbed at least once, and I’ve been on dozens of trips to places like Yosemite, Red Rock, and our “local” crag, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. And when I’m not climbing, I’m often reading about it or watching DVD’s. Put simply, climbing has become a big part of who I am.
But being a climber in Fort Worth, Texas takes committment. There isn’t a big community of climbers, so finding training partners is a challenge. It’s even harder to find partners for weekend (or even week-long) trips. A good partner has to be at roughly the same skill level, compatible from a personality standpoint, have the means to travel, and be willing to take time away from their busy life to devote to climbing. Fortunately, I’ve met a couple of guys over the years that have become good partners and good friends.
But in the past two years, things have become even more challenging. Most notably, I have two young daughters. I’ve also picked up other hobbies such as cycling that are appealing because they don’t require time away from home. These days, climbing trips are bittersweet — I love climbing but I feel a constant tug toward home. It has begun to feel like a selfish pursuit. As a result, I don’t climb as much as I used to. But this scares me. I hate the thought of losing skills and physical conditioning that have taken years to acquire. It feels like losing part of my identity.
Have I lost my fire as I’ve gotten older? I hope not. Maybe Megan is right and this is just a “season” in our lives. Maybe I’ll be able to find balance once again. After all, Abby is already showing signs of being a climber…