I arrived in Bishop a few days ago, before that I spent a week in Red Rocks. Vegas climbing is fun and accessible, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ready to be out of the desert and in the Sierras.
To be honest, I would probably be a little bit of a mess if I was anywhere but Bishop right now.
The hate mail about that silly article I wrote a few weeks ago keeps coming in, less frequently now, and I know not to take it personally because the internet is crazy and so are people, but it still stings. I’m glad it stings. Being sensitive is worth it.
It also helps to have an immensely supportive boyfriend who keeps me down to earth and aware of what’s real and what’s just a bunch of bored climbers wanting to stir things up behind the veil of the internet. I’m very thankful for that boy and god, do I miss him.
I was so tired when I arrived in Bishop. I hadn’t taken a proper rest day really since I left home a few weeks ago, and my body and mind were exhausted. I hiked up into the Tablelands anyway, excited to see my friends and climb on rock that I love, rock that’s familiar. The Sierras made all of the internet-hate laughable, light enough to be carried off with just a slight breeze.
The first day of climbing was fine, I spent my time climbing easier classics and taking pictures. The second day, I woke up after a night of deep, amazing sleep, but feeling sore in my back, my outer hips, my core. As I started moving, I noticed fatigue in other places as well–the arches of my feet, my forearms, my neck. Packing up the car felt tiresome. Every step of the short, uphill hike to the Happy boulders was painful in some way. I was fully aware and consciously experiencing all of this, so I told myself I would just watch my friends climb and take pictures. But when I got up to the Heavenly Path boulder, I found myself looking up at the beautiful golden slab with wide eyes, tingling fingers, and a craving for air under my feet. Just a few easy climbs will be fine, I thought. I’ll rest tomorrow.
A few easy climbs turned into a few more easy climbs, and then I found myself standing under Solarium. I have a special relationship with that climb, I think we all do. I see more people angry at that boulder problem than any other. I climb it every time I’m in the Happys and it always takes me about three, sometimes ten tries to actually send it. It’s frustrating in that way, because it’s not hard necessarily, it just makes you work. It never gives itself up too easily.
I’m gonna do it first go, I thought. Just try really hard and it’s yours, I told myself.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, buried below many layers of attachments and desires and my ego, a small voice warned me to be careful on that tweaky two finger pocket you have to make a big move of off. You aren’t warmed up enough for this, I heard faintly. But I didn’t listen.
Of course I got hurt on the climb. We all know that that’s how this story always goes. Right as I threw for the lip of the boulder, I felt a sharp pain in my palm. It ran down my forearm.
I truly believe that injuries always signify something more than just a physiological problem. In this case, hurting my tendon was my body’s way of telling me to slow down, to rest, to quit letting my ego and my addiction to climbing rocks control me. My intuition was in fact speaking to me, cautioning me, but my attachment to sending (even on a climb that I have done many times in the past) muffled its warnings.
Before I left the Bay Area, I was cleaning out bunch of belongings from my room and the garage. I found my old journals, some of which were from when I was as young as eight years old. When I was young, almost every word I wrote was a direct translation of my intuition. Like the messages that my instincts were sending me would flow right from my gut, into my arm and out through the tip of my pen. I was constantly writing about dreams I had, feelings I got, coincidences, moments of serendipity or unexplainable twinges in my core. Of course, I also wrote a lot about how much I loved my dog Jessie and the boys at school who I thought were cute, I was just like any other girl after all.
I don’t know why when we get older that our intuition stops being our main guide. Instead we let things like ego, fear, and desires lead us through this world. We just let those things get so damn loud. They scream, and our intuition dies down to a mere whisper. Sometimes it flickers out all together.
Yesterday I took my first real rest day in weeks. The other “rest days” so far have consisted of long hikes, easy climbing, or five hour drives. But yesterday, I soaked in the hot springs, wrote, read, drank a lot of water, yoga-ed, napped. My body felt better than it has in months. My mind had that mellow, clear feeling that only comes from treating yourself really, really well.
I submerge my body in the warm spring water. All the way up to my chin. My arms float away from my sides, my fingers release their grip. My hair, longer now, fans out on the water’s surface. My lower belly releases, pooching away from my spine, so many weeks of engagement. The space between my shoulder blades turns malleable, my tongue turns soft. It has been so long. So long it makes my lower eyelids hold salty tears. The steam blurs my vision, turns the Eastern Sierra landscape into a watercolor painting. I feel my organs warming, my pores dilate, and the spring water, heated by the earth, pulls the toxins right out of me. They stream from my body like a tributary. I feel spacious, expanded, less saline. The silts that line the pool slowly stop swirling, they settle and come to rest. I take the first breath in months, fill my lungs to the brim, and then exhale. It’s all gone. It’s all out. I just leave it there in the spring, in the crust of the earth.
I think our intuition is very hard to hear when we aren’t taking good care of ourselves. It’s hard to do much of anything really, anything that isn’t ruled by our ego.
This post is for you. Yes, you. Use this as a reminder to take extreme care, to be gentle, to let yourself rest. Please rest. Rest often and deep. Do something for yourself today that is supportive and nurturing. Drink a lot of water, stretch, nap. Let your body release. Listen to all of those messages coming from the deepest part of your belly.
Take a rest day 🙂