As you may recall from “Don’t Tell Me You’re Busy,” time is hard. But it’s not just about how you want to spend your time, it’s about how others want you to spend your time.
I can’t tell you how many times my parents, when they saw how swamped I was with work, told me I “needed to find something else.” I can’t tell you how many times people would tell me to “just skip the gym.” I can’t tell you how many times people told me, “well it’s not like you get paid or are on a team for it, so you’re not obligated to anything.”
Climbing isn’t a free timer filler; it’s not something you mess around with in your spare moments, and it’s not something that you just dabble in. In reality, climbing is a lifestyle. It becomes just as necessary as eating, breathing, schoolwork, jobs, meetings, district games, or anything else. From the outside, however, it just seems unnecessary. Like it’s just an extra. And that’s where the flaw is in how we deem importance as a society.
So if you had to cut something out of your life, it would be climbing, right? I mean, it’s not like you need to climb.
Because the joy it brings you doesn’t matter, its intriguing challenges don’t matter, the fitness it imposes upon you doesn’t matter, the strong interpersonal bonds it facilitates don’t matter, and the drastic change in atmosphere it provides doesn’t matter. Because it doesn’t give you money, it doesn’t give you a scholarship, and it doesn’t give you a prize at the end.
Chances are, most of us will never have nor desire a professional climbing career. But, hear this: it doesn’t make climbing any less important for us. Who decided on the finite list of things that can count as obligations? Why do others’ values need to determine our own?
I have committed to climbing. As consequence, I have been home considerably less, missed social events, not rested for my games and meets, acquired permanent-looking calluses, and developed an even more masculine figure than I already had. As consequence, I’ve made better friends than I thought were possible, became stronger than I could have dreamed, experienced joy that is hard to recreate, learned to think in new, creative ways, and seen some truly beautiful things with a perspective I could have never had otherwise.
Is climbing important?