I haven’t climbed in a week now.
Well, I put up some top ropes for a friend on 5.9s in Owen’s Gorge and climbed Robinson’s Rubber Tester in the Buttermilks, but that’s about it.
Not being able to climb is one of the more heartbreaking things for a climber to deal with. And when you’re sleeping and living out in Buttermilk Country, it’s straight up torturous. Those boulders, more than any other I’ve seen, beg to be climbed. The English language doesn’t have accurate words to describe the beauty of the Buttermilks, I feel like they need to spoken of in French or Italian or some other language with deep history and decadent sounds.
Initially I thought that these days spent injured would be slow and stagnant, stretching on like those summer afternoons in late June when the sun seems like it will never set. I thought I would be lonely. But it hasn’t been like that. Bishop makes for full days, even when you’re not climbing, and I can’t go to the coffee shop without seeing at least three people that I know. As soon as one group of friends leave, another group rolls in. I watch the looks on their faces as they pack up their tent, looking up at Mt. Tom one last time for now. God, that feeling. I know it all too well. I’ve been feeling lucky to be the one that always gets to stay.
My body is absolutely loving the rest. My muscles feel strong, and my hand is healing very quickly. Every day it gets a little better, and now there is just the slightest twinge of soreness, evidence of the trauma. A few more days of rest and I should be back to climbing very easy routes.
The whole process of healing has been extremely interesting. More than anything it’s just reminding me of how miraculous it is that our bodies are capable of mending themselves. Out of all the things in this world where we can see magic in tangible form, healing may be the most enchanting, the most powerful.
Healing, in the physical or emotional realm, will occur regardless of our awareness of it. Although we can alter the speed and quality of the process with things like a calm mind, good sleep, and lots of water, healing does not necessarily require our conscious efforts. It will happen despite our attention to it because this is what living things are made to do. We were designed to thrive.
Maybe it goes like this—when we supplement our healing processes, when we don’t ignore or fight it, our wounds recover into healthy, well-formed scars. Often the area of trauma comes out even stronger than before when we are nurturing. But if we don’t enhance our recovery, or if we deter it in all of the million ways there are to go about doing that, we will still heal, but in a different way. Perhaps the process will take many years, maybe it will even make us sick, maybe the wound will become infected or seep into other areas of our bodies, of our minds. Maybe the incision will finally close, but remains weak and prone to reopening.
Either way, our traumas and the way they heal is what writes our lives. They are our stories, nothing else will ever feel so yours.
Becoming who we are has little to do with yoga teacher trainings and post-college backpacking trips through Europe, and everything to do with our hurts and the way in which we deal with them.
Okayokay, so yoga and backpacking are both things that can help us recover, but those kinds of things are not the meat of who we are, as these living, breathing egos.
So maybe I have had a little bit of time on my hands, if I’m coming to all of this from just a little hand injury. But for some reason, no matter if it’s a pulled tendon or something much, much more serious, injury within my body is deeply unsettling to me. It makes my stomach feel light. I think that when I get injured in even the slightest way, it reminds me of all the other wounded parts of myself as well. Maybe those are the ones I haven’t been doing a good job of tending to. Maybe all of the things within us that are unhealed are infinitely connected, all dependently shifting and tugging on each other.
I keep seeing articles and books and magazine stories about How To Get Over a Breakup and How To Forgive Someone and How to Recover from the Flu. I don’t know how much these lists are helping us. The healing process is so personal, so unique to us individually, that we can’t follow some step-by-step How To guide. I think a few things are universal—water, good food, sleep, movement, creative activities. But any further than that…well, only you know what you need to do.
My mom came down from the Bay Area to visit me in Bishop yesterday. She also brought our pups, so the day was definitely a special one. Showing them a place that I love so much, the Buttermilks, was an experience that I will always cherish. I just keep thinking about how lucky I am to have a mom that would do that for me. Thanks for everything Mama, seeing you and the dogs helped me more than you know.
And now I can’t stop thinking about all of the people in my life, how good they all are to me. I have the best family and the best friends and the best boyfriend. And the best dogs. Chances are you are surrounded by really good people too.
I think I should add one more thing to the list of things crucial to healing—gratitude. Recognition of the good stuff. It’s so easy to get injured, to break your leg or break your heart, and then just let the whole thing drag you into this dark, deep hole of negativity. Suddenly even the things in your life that are actually good seem kinda shitty. All of the imperfections start to feel prickly.
Of course, there is a time and place for feeling really, ridiculously sad and lonely. But something that I’ve learned, especially recently, is to make sure I’m being sad about the things that are in fact sad, and not to just lump everything together–otherwise known as being in a bad mood.
But to be honest, even the things that could be categorized as sad don’t feel like they’ve got their claws in me. I’ve been appreciating the quietness they offer, their ability to crack me open.
It’s funny how you head out on the road for a season of climbing, and instead find yourself injured and not able to climb, but healing quickly and healthily, mending wounds I had forgotten were even there.
Feeling grateful for all of it. Have a good day everyone!