Love. Sex. Friendship.
It’s been shown by numerous credible sources that there is a strong connection between physical health and mental well-being. Get your body into better shape and your mind is sure to follow. That’s the surefire cure for any malaise.
Or so they say.
So with this in mind I decided on a course of action to get both my body and spirits into better shape and the vehicle I chose was rock climbing. Not out in the wilderness but in the cozy confines of a rock wall gym.
For those unfamiliar with what a rock wall is let me enlighten you. A rock wall is a man-made structure where there is a wall and jutting out of that wall are a number of small hand-holds that allow you to quickly and easily climb up it. Quickly and easily if you have a large amount of mountain goat or orangutan in your DNA.
The rest of us are left looking up and wondering aloud if there wasn’t a better way to have spent twenty dollars.
To make matters worse, after a few visits to said gym you will be encouraged to leave behind the fleeting feelings of accomplishment you get by successfully making it to the top of a particular set of hand-holds, even though you understand that this is the same set of hand-outs that they lead the obese ten year old over to for his birthday climb, and try something called “bouldering.” Bouldering is where you follow a set of colored hand-holds that don’t require getting put into a harness or being helped by any of the facilities many employees. In fact, you never make it more than a few feet off the ground as you try to figure out a way to complete the various paths.
It is cruel and brutal and no fun whatsoever. It makes your arms aches, your fingers burn and your legs cramp. All within sight of the obese ten year old and his opinionated friends.
At this gym there were three sets of colored hand-hold paths that you were expected to choose from. They were named Love, Sex and Friendship. To make things even more unnecessarily difficult their coloring wasn’t particularly distinctive. Red for Love, pink for Sex and a pale orange for Friendship. When you’re desperately clinging to the wall and reaching out for something to hold onto the subtleties of these differences can easily be missed. Just when you think you’re making real progress with Friendship you end up grabbing a little Sex and ruining the whole thing.
I couldn’t even get a straight answer from the instructor on which path I should take. I wanted the easiest one and he explained that it completely depends on a lot of factors; body type and attitude being the most important. I just want a little exercise and the next thing I know I’m having to decide if I am the type of person who likes slow but steady or if I’m willing to take a few risks.
I spent a few hours trying to see which path was more to my liking and found that I was a failure at all of them. Each one of them seemed to have some facet I couldn’t overcome.
I sat back on the padded flooring and wondered why I bothered to follow the rules to begin with. I had paid my money, why did I care if a bunch of people I didn’t know or care about thought of how I was spending my rock-climbing time? If I had used whatever climbing holds were within reach instead of worrying if they were red, pink or orange I would have had a much more enjoyable experience. Mountains don’t have colors!
If I sound like I’m just making excuses for my poor performance you’re probably right. The thing is, I wasn’t prepared like some of the people who strode up to the counter and plopped down their membership cards. They had special shoes. They had their own helmets. They had bags of white powder that I can only assume was cocaine.
I was in jeans and a t-shirt and I’m the first to admit I have the mental fortitude of an obese ten year old kid … and I don’t even know where to buy cocaine any more.
Before you roll your eyes though and give up on me just know that I’m not going to give up that easily. I’m going back until I am a veteran of Love, Sex and Friendship. Until I know the right ways to go. Until I know when and where to grab for each. Until I can hold on as long as necessary.
Until I am a slimmer ten year old.