The feeling is diffuse and huge, so omnipresent you almost forget about it, like a dull pain you teach yourself to ignore. Other times it is achingly close, so vivid and intense that the clarity makes you catch your breath. You can arrange the thoughts in a neat line, stark and bare for you to examine and categorize, like dark leaves in deep white snow. But when you reach to search for language- to communicate, analyze, question- a sideways shaft of light suddenly obscures your vision, layering a thin light haze over you and what you thought you finally understood; you blink, a slight nod to your head, as the realization vanishes – and you’re lost all over again.

Not long ago you were driving, not paying attention to anything in particular, when a song began to play-  Myth by Beach House.

If you built yourself a myth, You’d know just what to give

Then you felt it again, in intimate, serrated, close detail- a swift and shockingly clear realization. It corners you, that suffocating sensation when you realize you are not extraordinary. And then it leaves. Momentarily you feel blindsided, shook, confused, but aware.

Help me to name it,

Help me to name it

Happiness can often feel so easy to reach. To admire the glossy shine of fresh spring flowers after a light rain, to tuck your head into someone’s neck and relish the warmth of intimacy, to deeply inhale the scent of coffee as you prolong your morning, to feel strong as you instinctively let your body move…

found yourself in a new direction
arrows falling from the sun
canyons calling
would they come to greet you
let you know you’re not the only one

 

 

 

There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self – Aldous Huxley

To overcome the anxieties and depressions of contemporary life, individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself. She has to develop the ability to find enjoyment and purpose regardless of external circumstances.” ― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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At the end of this year, I revisited the list of “2018 goals” I decided I wanted to pursue.

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“To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities—I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not—that one endures.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

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This is a story about two feet, but to truly tell the tale I need to start elsewhere.

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Meldicott Dome. “Peace” is visible as the second streak of black granite-to the right of its famous neighbor Bachar-Yerian

Before New Years- frozen in a small cabin in Mexico- I wrote a list of goals for the next year. I split it up into sections – “climbing” , “professional” and “personal.” Of course, because my priorities can be somewhat perplexing, the “climbing” section came first. On the very top of the list I wrote “Touch To Bolt, ” vowing that I would at least try my dream route. In April, I surprised myself by not only trying it but, after 16 days of work, joyously clipping its anchors. Immediately below to bolt, I wrote my second goal- “Peace.”

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Up high on Kings of Rap at Smith Rock State Park. Photo by Micah Humphrey

 

On my 27th birthday, I woke up buried in my sleeping bag, nestled in my car in the middle of Central Oregon. I poked my head out to see frost building up on every window of my car, yet the sky was clear and the sun was strong. This wasn’t an unfamiliar scene- I had spent many nights this winter and spring in the exact same spot, and I welcomed the cold weather. Cold weather meant more days of climbing. In fact, the forecast for the week looked so good that I organized my work around it at the last minute,  driving down from Seattle by myself to capitalize on what would likely be the last week of crisp conditions that would grace this area for months.

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“Flow- An optimal mental state of functioning in which our skill matches the challenge, action and awareness merge, and we become so engaged in the activity that we have a loss of self-consciousness and time gets distorted. Full stop”

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One year ago today I was embarking on the beginning  of what turned out to be one of the best adventures of my life. I traveled from January through mid June finding myself in climbing destinations in California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and Canada. I then moved to Tuolumne (in Yosemite National Park) and had an incredible summer, working all over Yosemite  and spending my days off climbing immaculate granite and exploring the wild places of both the Western and Eastern Sierra. In a quite spur of the moment decision, I ended up climbing in Spain for much of December.

Life was good.

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