I have trouble dealing with stress and sometimes my responsibilities become toxic. The stress seeps into all aspects of my life and makes it near impossible to enjoy anything. It wasn’t always that way. I used to have no worries, but a lot has happened since then, and my life has undergone the unhealthy process of adulteration.
When I was 22 I started to feel a sense of urgency to make up for my neglected years. I caught up by trying to do everything at once: life, work, school, relationships, family, hobbies, and recovery, while neglecting to maintain myself. The result was a really miserable experience, and an even more miserable person.
When I started a progressive medical treatment for a liver infection it took away the vitality required to balance all of my obligations. I got crumpled the first day of the treatment, and I had 89 days left. My skin turned grey, my eyes turned yellow, my mind grew dull, and my mind filled with doubt.
A month into the treatment my life was in tatters. I was drowning; questioning whether it was worth it to keep on living. I had to quit my job, lost my passion for school, neglected my relationship, and started smoking cigarettes again.
I am not fatalistic by any means. I don’t believe in God, or fate, or destiny; I’m just kind of here. That being said, retrospect and nostalgia have very enlightening qualities, and when I look back at these events from where I am now, there is a very eerie feeling of serendipity. It’s just absurd to me that over and over again in my life that it’s the lowest moments that lead me to the places where I belong.
The treatment was complete in June, and by August I had successfully deconstructed my entire life. All those things that I had worked so hard to balance were gone. I was in the midst of a pre-midlife crisis, and I chose to solve that crisis by getting back into climbing.
The hardest part during that transition was my bringing the stressed out basket case into my new life. Even now I still try to control things that I can’t control. I stay up late at night sleepless and anticipate what the next day might bring. I can’t count how many sleepless nights I have had before big climbs, or estimate how many belays I’ve sat in feeling completely freaked out, or how many walls I’ve started climbing with a total lack of confidence in my ability, and how many pre-trip meltdowns I’ve had.
It’s been a tedious process. The solution was filtering myself out of these experiences. I’ve had to work hard to discard my expectations about how things go and to disregard the irrational fear that limits my freedom. I have to remind myself that I don’t go on trips to be stressed out, and that I don’t enjoy these trips because they are safe or controlled.
However, these feelings are perfectly normal. It is uncomfortable because it is unfamiliar. When I first began doing electrical work I was scared of touching unsheathed bare copper. When I first started to walk I was unstable. Why should this new lifestyle be any different?
The more trips I go on the more comfortable I become on the road; the more climbs I do the more secure I feel off the ground. And then, after a lot of climbs and trips and adventures, the anticipation and unfamiliarity flipped. It wasn’t being on the road or on the wall that I feared anymore, but it was going back to that now foreign place that I’d always associated as my home.
I find that my experiences can use a lot less of me, and that rather than try to control things, I’m a better person, companion, and adventurer when I embrace the chaos and get psyched on being present and isolated in the current moment.
The illusion of control is a sick game we play, life is a wind, and we are just figures on a landscape. Fight all you want, but the more you fight, the more weathered you will become through the inevitable passage of time. As far as I’m concerned, I concede. Life can do as it will. I’m not fighting anymore. I’ve searched for a long time, and I think I’ve found what I’ve been looking for.