The truth is, who is in a place to rightfully give advice to anyone else? Not me, that’s for sure. A very wise stranger once told me “be wary of advice from strangers”¹ and that certainly applies to this blog.
Whenever I started thinking of who I would like to give a bit of advice, this person instantly popped into my head. Although we just recently met, they have had a profound impact on my life. I’ve been a bit frustrated with them lately, so writing this has definitely been a bit of a release for me. Also, from here on I will be referring to this person as Turtle-Man, for reasons I will not specify.
Not everything has to be so hard. A V4 rated climb is a V4 rated climb. So why are you calling it a V2? The only reason is to pump up your own ego. The problem is, you’re torturing countless hardworking individuals who want to feel like they are advancing in the sport. Route grades are a thing because they make it easier for us to judge where our strength is at. When you sandbag them, you just make people defeated and stupid.
My advice to you on this subject is to try and sympathize with the beginning climber. Why would you want to discourage someone who is just starting out? Your sandbagged routes may make them feel as if they aren’t cut out for climbing. Don’t be the reason someone drops out from an activity that could be perfect for them!
Turtle-Man, you’re an incredible athlete, and It’s obvious that you have a ton of technical knowledge about climbing. So why do you act so annoyed every time someone asks you a question? Helping other people is an amazing privilege and a real chance to make an impact on their life. There is no reason to leave them feeling belittled and confused after they ask you for some beta. Open up your mind and recognize the amazing position you are in! With all this knowledge and skill, you have some serious respect in the gym. Why not use that platform to spread positivity and encourage others rather than put them down?
I’d encourage you to let loose a little. There’s no need to make the life for those around you harder. Underneath that hard turtle shell, I can tell there’s a really cool individual.
Dear my dear friend,
You are an amazing friend! Because I wish you only the best, and Casen has given me the authority to give you advice, here are a few pointers to keep your life moving in the right direction (as decided by me, the omniscient power that I clearly am).
You are very guarded. Which is totally understandable. Being vulnerable is scary and you never know how people will react to you. At the same time, it’s kind of unreasonable in a social (non-professional) setting. I mean, how can you really make friends or have meaningful relationships if people don’t actually see you? I’ve caught glimpses a few times, and all I can think in those moments is keep the curtain open, please! At the end of the day, people who should be your friends will be, and if any can’t handle you unguarded then they’re really just unnecessary, right? What’s the point of having friends that like a fake you?
You’re super unpredictable. Sometimes, you take huge risks. Other times, you’re more hesitant than a newborn kitten. I appreciate that you always keep me guessing, but I think some consistency could really help you grow. You’re a truly phenomenal climber, and when you get on wicked hard stuff, you approach it with such confidence that it’s impossible not to stand back (with a hand on the brake rope, of course) in awe. If you approached every session with the attitude that you’re going to crush everything that you touch, I think you’d be an unstoppable climber. Lastly, you’re the same in the social arena. You can talk to anybody with a pulse, yet sometimes it’s almost like you’re afraid to risk talking to people. Be brave! Have confidence!
If you think I’m calling you out individually, you’re most certainly wrong. This applies to a great many people that I know, including myself. Continue to strive for greatness and achieve the unattainable! I wish you a large number of wild years ahead with only the highest of clips!
Your loving friend,
Tasked with giving advice…where to begin/where to end? I vacillate between giving life advice and climbing advice. I mean who am I to offer life advice to anyone? Perhaps I could conjure up some general words of wisdom that my philosophical brethren have laid out before me? Maybe an example of a life experience would help another get through a similar situation, maybe either of these options would lead to a 2,000-word rant that would go well beyond the scope of this piece. HELP, what should I do?
Kill two birds with one stone! Climbing advice can work as a metaphor for life advice. So let me offer this (and leave it to you dear reader to connect the dots): Don’t forget to have fun! I’ve seen so many “climbers” start chasing grades, obsess the proj, and generally just forget why they “climb” to begin with. For some this leads to punching walls, anger, and neck vein distension (when you bring out the neck vein, it’s time to question what you’re doing with your life). Sometimes fun transforms into something else.
I remember reading a fablesque children’s story of a group of kids who were tossing stones at the windows of a huge greenhouse. The owner of the abandoned greenhouse (an older man) caught them. They thought they were going to get into trouble, and so ran away. The man knew they would be back to get into some more fun, and so waited for their return. When they returned he told them that he saw what they were doing and would like to pay them for their services. Ten cents for each window they were able to break, at first the kids thought this was a dream come true. But after just a little while, what started off as fun turned into a job. The kids didn’t think their efforts were worth the money, and so decided to quit “working”.
I’ve seen so many people, too many people, forget why they started to “climb”. Breaking windows is supposed to be fun, and it’s a shame when people forget. (oh that’s right, I just wrapped a metaphor into another metaphor)
Side Note: My non-climbing based 2,000-word rant was set to begin with…
You’re going to forget almost every single thing you will ever say, think, or do.
And set to end with…
“Climb that goddamn mountain” – Jack Kerouac
Dear 19-year-old me,
I will start this letter by pointing out that yes, I do know what you are thinking and I agree; I have committed a cliché! However, I write this letter to let you know that everything will be okay. The moment that you will read this, if you ever do, chaos and pain will dominate your days. Do not fret, myself, as I tell you that things will get better.
Love, follow your gut. Do not be afraid of what others might think of you. Please, do not act a certain way to fulfill others’ expectations, especially when these are for selfish reasons. However, if you ever succumb to societal pressure, do not judge yourself too harshly as others have succumbed too- I did when I was in your place. If you make the same decisions I did, a beautiful being will grow inside of you for nine months. Be courageous, even when you feel like running away. Stand up to your beliefs and don’t let others’ dictate your path; you will know who your true friends are at this time. This will be a life-changing moment, embrace it.
Hold your parents’ hands tight but hold yours tighter. Do your best to support them but remember, it’s their relationship. In my time, they were divorcing. Things will change but you will grow. Rely on your loved ones, you will be surprised.
When life turns around and we hit a dark place, there is a way out. You must be willing to push through and use the resources at your hand. Embrace the situation and learn from it. Six years ago, I never thought that I would ever have the opportunity to smile this bright. Life turned around, this time for the better.
My love, If all the pain was necessary to be where I am now, I would go through it all over again.
Con todo el amor del mundo,
Your 26-year-old self
¹ Thanks to Halffastcyclingclub for the perfect quote!