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Friday, April 30, 2010

Engaged: Rock Climbing and Marriage

When I was in Thailand, I decided to give rock climbing a go. There was an instructor, an assistant, a cute capable boy, and his overweight sister who kept quoting the TV show Biggest Loser and saying, "We're gonna die. We are so going to die." Without much instruction we were harnessed in and sent up a wall. Two things made the experience horrible. 1) The girl repeating the word die as I tried to shimmy up. 2) The assistant was in charge of my rope and spent more time looking at his hot instructor fiance than me. I lost my grip and fell about 10 feet before he caught me. Ever since then when people bring up rock climbing I've said, why would I want to desperately cling to a wall of rock?

I thought I knew myself, but boredom will make me do crazy things, so when my friend Shane invited me to the rock gym, Enclosure, here in Jackson, I said sure. Had I tried it before? Ummm.... Just once in Thailand. Never a rock gym. I didn't want to share too much of my true hatred for the activity because I was bored and lonely and desperate for action. Previous experience has taught that people aren't going to want to hang out with me if I'm whiny and full of hate, so I tucked the fear and dislike away for the present.

Turns out, rock climbing isn't so bad when the path is marked out for you on a rubber wall and you are surrounded by padding. I recommend trying out rock climbing in this fashion. Leave Thailand for the people who know what they are doing. My favorite part of the experience was Shane explaining to me why he loves climbing.

You go from standing on the floor, full of life's nerousis and distractions to be being fully engaged in one step. By just getting your hands and feet on the wall, you have put yourself in a position where your entire body is active and your mind needs to be focused on keeping you there. Clinging to a wall does have a way of snapping you into the present. I will give the activity that. While climbing, even fully surrounded by padding still scares the poo out of me, and the experience caused my body to tremble, I can say that I felt fully engaged. I wasn't bored or worried about the future for a second while I was on the wall.

Can't pass up this opportunity to give a shout out to my friends Max and Brittany who just got engaged. They are an amazing couple who seem to make each others lives better. They have a smoothie and yoga routine going that anyone should envy. I'm happy to see love advancing in this independent valley, where the persuit of freedom seems to override the fostering of love.

Personally, I've always been a little weird about marriage. As a little girl, I fantisized about having 4 or 5 marriages. I'm pretty sure this is just a negative side effect of watching Elizabeth Tayor's E! True Hollywood Story way too many times. Once I hit 18, I started dreaming of a quicky marriage in Vegas followed by an annulment. It just seemed like a fun story for my retirment years. Really, I've just always been more into rings and dresses than the thought of a life long commitment. But I've been haunted by Shane's word, engaged, since he gave me the motivational tutorial. I do love being engaged in a physical activity. Does that equate in an abstract way? Would I like to be engaged to a person?

On a solo, low-key bike ride the other day, I got to thinking about staying engaged. When I had the bike in a high gear and was challenged, all I could think about was my movement. My mind was clear and happy. Then, I'd get tired and let myself coast. Beyonce as a really talented and engaged performer came to mind. I thought about how she must have amazing focus. Then, I thought about how much I admire her butt. Then, my own butt came to mind and a peddled harder for a few seconds. The distraction had crept in, though, and soon I was back to barely moving and thinking about how my butt seemed a little flatter that morning and maybe my butt is getting flatter from biking. Not good! I'm going for rounder and plumper! In this time, I could have been hit by a car or thrown by a pot hole because I was not in this world. I was completely in my own head and nothing was happening to my butt because I was barely cycling.

Maybe this is why people get engaged. It is easy to date around, and hook-up with someone who is ok when you really want physical affection. It's even becoming hugely, culturally acceptable, but it isn't challenging or very rewarding. It's the cycling equivalant of coasting. Really getting to know someone. Investing in another person. Accepting all of someone and allowing someone to see and accept all of you, even the really embarrassing parts. That must be what being engaged with another person is all about. It sounds really hard and scary to me. Even more frightening than rock climbing in Thailand. But the challenge is what makes it rewarding. It's what causes growth. It's what keeps you in the moment instead of thinking about stupid crap on TV. Rock climbing builds crazy little muscles in hands and arms and places I haven't even considered. Maybe getting engaged to another person, making that commitment, builds crazy little emotional muscles in the heart. Or wherever the love center really it. Maybe it makes us able to love stronger, longer, better. Sounds good to me.

The theory I was left with is, being challenged makes it much easier to stay engaged. We can live our lives like drones, coasting, or we can push harder, challenge ourselves, and stay engaged. Being engaged, we can enjoy this moment and grow in it. Otherwise we have to feel insecure about our butts compared to Beyonce's. That is no way to live.

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