I am sitting on the airplane, heading to Reno for the grand opening of the world’s tallest climbing wall.  It was built by Entre Prises on the side of this new hotel in the middle of the city.  I’m going to climb it and my good friend Boone Speed is going to take photos.  Bizarre, huh?
The “V15” bar. 
While sitting here, on the plane, I can’t stop thinking about this route that I want to send in Rifle.  It’s really hard for me, and I desperately want to do it.  I keep falling though, and it’s making me feel anxious.  Yesterday, Sam told me to stop worrying about doing it, that it’s not about sending; it’s about the process. My focus should not be success, but climbing well and enjoying the route while I still have it to climb on.  This is good advice, but it’s hard to follow.
Me on my project
The two guys sitting beside me are talking.  One of them is a learjet pilot from Nebraska.  He’s going to Reno for his little sister’s birthday party.  The other guy is going because he does something with sheep. Something to do with getting them to a water source, I think.  He keeps refering to it as “the project”; like “I’m camping out at the project site tomorrow night” and “I’ll put work clothes on and actually help build the project.”  I don’t understand, but I don’t want to ask him about it.  I don’t like to engage strangers on airplanes, I always feel awkward and like I have to keep talking to them when I would rather read or listen to music.  Instead, I prefer to eavesdrop.  Listening to the conversation next to me helps take my mind off of my ridiculous obsession with a sport climb in Rifle.
I glance down at my hands, folded neatly in my lap, in an effort to feign minding my own business.  I see my tattoo on the inside of my right forearm, and it catches me offguard.  It has been almost a year since I had it done, but it surprises me sometimes to see it.  Not in a bad way, more like I’m still getting used to it being a part of me.  It’s a tree – a Hindi calligraphy design of a tree.  There’s two characters from the Hindi alphabet in the middle of it, and birds flying around the perimeter of the design.  I really like it. I like everything about it, even the fact that I don’t know what the exact Hindi letters are.  One of them looks like an “e”, which is my first initial.   I like that too.
Some people get tattoos out of impulse.  Some do it after thinking it over for years and finally deciding on a design they like. Others just talk about getting one but never do because they don’t want to regret it when they’re older.  I don’t think I fall into any of these categories.  I have always wanted a tattoo (one of a tree, in fact) but in the same way that I’ve always wanted to go skydiving.  I’d do it, if the opportunity presented itself, but if it never came up, I wouldn’t pursue it much further.
The time seemed right in Banff, Canada last year, and I went ahead with it.  I almost bailed, worried that my friends and family would think it was distasteful and trashy.  After mulling it over though, I chose to forget those concerns and just do it, because I wanted to.  I don’t do that very often, and I’m glad I did it with something so permanent.  It’s a reminder, to trust myself and make my own path, even when others tell me that it’s not the right way.
I am curious if the stranger next to me is following his path; if he actually wants to live in Nebraska and be a learjet pilot.  I certainly wouldn’t want to, but I decide that he does, based on the fact that he seems so eager to talk about it.  He also mentioned that he likes the weather in Nebraska, “MUCH better than Oklahoma,” he says to the sheep guy.  I wonder to myself, in an admitedly presumptuous and elitist way, if he’s ever spent time in Colorado.
Colorado Fall.
There’s this quote I’ve always loved that I think fits nicely with all of this:  “Do not accept unwanted advice, write your own story.” Learjet guy doesn’t care that I think Nebraska is flat and boring.  He seems psyched to be living there, stoked on the good weather and to be able fly learjets for a living.  I’d like to think he’s happy doing what he’s doing, even though he’s a total stranger and I really have no solid evidence to form such opinions.  Being a learjet pilot sounds badass, right?  Even if you do have to live in Nebraska.  I hope he’s writing his own story, and I’m trying to write mine.  And that’s all that should matter, even if I never end up sending my project – which I can’t help but be really hopeful that I can.   Someday, at least.

6 responses to “THoughtstream

  1. Hey,
    I came across your website today and the first thing I read was this post. I live in Nebraska. I always thought that NE got brought up in the strangest ways. I have had a hard time realizing that certain people I went to school with actually want to stay in Nebraska and live their life here. Did you notice if the jet pilot from NE was wearing cowboy boots? Or did he say anything about good ole NE beef cuz chances are that’s why he likes NE (okay I didn’t mean that).
    I have been climbing for about 2 years now and I am in nursing school. When I am finished I will move west (Boulder hopefully) and climb every dang day outside if I want!!!! Until then I will keep climbing with the good, little group of climbers we have here at the UNL climbing wall, drive 7 or more hrs to go climb real rock and watch videos of all you awesome climbers when I should be studying :). Thank you for letting me read a little bit about your life and I know you got the skills to get that project at Rifle, no matter how hard you think it is now. Duh, Emily’s always get what they want!
    -Emily K. from NE

    • Wow Emily thanks for writing all that (and reading it too). I’m glad you didn’t take offense to my Nebraska dig, I’m really just ignorant about the place and was mostly kidding. I’ve actually found that climbing communities in parts of the country with little or no close rockclimbing are some of the kindest, most genuine, and passionate people I’ve ever met. You have to really love climbing to drive 7 hours to get to the nearest piece of rock 😉 cheers to you for that. Good luck with nursing school – I’m hope you make it out to CO soon!
      Oh and the learjet guy wasn’t wearing cowboy boots, but he DID mention football, and corn. That’s all there is in Nebraska, right? Football and corn? Just kidding. Sort of 😉

  2. Hi,
    I am a avid reader of climbing narc and, after reading about your recent send of Waka Flocka, I arrived at your blog! For some reason the way you write your posts is captivating and I kept scrolling down to other stories/pictures. I really enjoyed this one in particular as I find myself “thinking” in a similar fashion about the world going on around me sometimes. I also have a bias for that part of Canada as I grew up in Calgary. Did you climb at Lake Louise?
    I recently graduated from my degree in engineering here in Canada and am recovering from a finger injury I sustained bouldering. I seem to have lost that direction you talk about in reference to learjet guy (haha). Do you have any advice, having questioned your future in climbing and probably having dealt with numerous injuries, for finding that direction? My story seems unable to write itself currently…
    Its refreshing to read something a recreational climber such as myself can relate to and I am excited to hear about the Petzl trip to China!
    To reiterate what Emily from Nebraska said, thanks for letting me read a little bit about your adventures and congrats on Waka Flocka!

    Harry W

    • Hey Harry,

      Sorry I miss this comment – I was in China and my site was blocked…..

      Thanks for reading my blog, I’m glad you’re enjoying it! As far as advice goes, I’m not sure I have a whole lot, except to keep asking yourself questions about what makes you happy and try to remain true to yourself. Perhaps the most important thing to remember when dealing with injury is to be PATIENT. I’ve been lucky to not have any serious injuries, but I’ve had close friends who have, and it seems torturous. But it can also be a big motivator in the long run. Angie Payne absolutely destroyed her ankle a few years ago, had to take 8 months off and get surgery. She climbed her first v13 6 months after starting climbing again and says her injury was the best thing that could have happened to her at the time. Nothing worthy ever comes easily or quickly in life, sometimes you just have to wait it out and do the best you can until you get back at it. You’ll be stronger and more motivated!

      Hope that helps.

      Take care!


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