Rock-Climbing and Soul Searching

When I’m restless and looking for some positivity in my life to get that dopamine flowing I turn to hobbies. Now wait isn’t this a travel blog? Why yes, my friend but sometimes we need a local substitute for the thrills and joys of plane-hopping and stepping out of our comfort zones. Running is a hobby I pretend I have every now and then. It’s free, I can do it morning or night, I always believe it will change the core of my person-hood if I could just stick with it. There are nuggets of travel wisdom in here I promise.

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Oooh foreshadowing!

I’ve now been rock-climbing for two weeks and four days. I go the gym when I think I “should” but yesterday I went because I had to. That’s a strong word. “Had to” can mean a point of desperation or I can’t take _______ (fill in the blank) anymore. It can also be a positive word — something I know in my heart. Both times I’ve left the country I felt this “had to.” The first was out of bliss, I knew traveling to Italy was something I’ld thought about for years and getting to do art homework internationally sounded too good to be true. The second time was out of fear and not knowing what else to do.

Yesterday for the first time I felt a part of the climbing community because I had a fully present mindset; accepted my limitations; used my discomfort, weak weak forearm muscles and sincerity in asking for help as ways to talk to people; and expected the gym to be too crowded to even do anything, but the crowds meant it was okay to do things at my own pace and wait on the sidelines when I needed to. All of these ideas of self-forgiveness and awareness are exactly the same things that break us out of our comfort zone when we travel. Traveling, especially solo traveling, makes us:

  • present
  • accept not knowing a language/dialect/customs/directions or signs that we’re getting ourselves into trouble
  • uncomfortable
  • lonely
  • talkative
  • interested
  • open to our expectations and reality being different than how we imagined them
  • see our inner humanity in feet/knee/neck/back pain caused by lumpy mattresses, full backpacks and trying to fit in as much sight-seeing or manure-wheel-barrowing (W.W.O.O.F. specific, I don’t know of any famous sites that require this 😉 ) in a day as possible
  • see our common humanity in every shared conversation and smile
  • grow

My first rock-climbing experience was in 8th grade and I couldn’t make it more than two feet off the ground before my fear of heights kicked in. My second was in Lecce, Italy seven years later. Friends of a family I WWOOFed for invited me out to the city on a Tuesday night. Picture white stone buildings, rocky cliffs, winding stairs, sea walls and crashing waves.

 

Now forget all of that and picture a high-rise apartment building at night, a security gate, an underground parking garage, a half-closed garage door and crawling under that door. Inside that one-car, sloped ceiling garage — with grips on every surface, a padded floor and seven people — is where I rock-climbed. Talk about not being able to possibly imagine that I’ld ever be there or that that garage existed!

Hobbies may not be passions, but they can still push us forward and make life more surprising. Sometimes I wonder if certain actions are worth doing if they’re not intrinsic or pushing myself towards some higher life purpose. The answer is heck yeah. Try that thing you’re thinking about, because you never know what your passions will become or whom you’ll meet along the way. I’m appreciative I have the ability to rock-climb, travel and think about who I want to be.

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Nik on the streets of Lecce

Confidence comes with traveling. What do you do confidently or horribly uncomfortably at home?

 

Catch Ya Later,

Caryn

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