Movement. A good friend once sent me postcard which said “movement is life. Stillness is death” and it’s the kind of statement that can mean nothing but can also mean everything if you choose to read something into it. It’s true on a very logical level, in that being dead is intrinsically linked with being still. Nothing moves when you’re dead. I guess it’s also logically the case than you can’t be totally still when you’re alive, because you’re heart would be beating, no matter what sort of deep meditative trance you entered. However, I don’t think the quote is intended to be taken solely on this logical level, because on that level it’s clearly true. I didn’t read too much into the quote when I got it, beyond thinking it was a nice thing to point out. I still haven’t read too much into it, but my mind does sometimes slip back to thinking about it, and normally it’s linked to thoughts about where I may be going in life.

There are only 3 directions you can move in life (if you accept the definition that stillness is death) and they are forwards, backwards, and sideways (also assuming we are on a 2D plane and can only move in right angles!). For better or for worse I’ve always linked forwards with good, backwards with bad, and sideways with sometimes acceptable but not really good enough. I’ve also linked forwards with progress, perhaps obviously. I don’t ever want to be still. I only want to move forward, and will accept that sometimes sideways movement will occur, but I would like to minimise it. Backwards movement is something I’ve always strived to avoid, in the sense that I think of it as regression. Sometimes turning around isn’t moving backwards, it’s really moving forwards, and that’s something which I’ve always tried to remember. Never be too proud or too stubborn to turn around, not when it’s the right thing to do.

Climbing is such a simplistic thing to do. You put energy in, you get better. You can set a goal, you work for the goal, you achieve the goal. You move on. It’s an intensely simple process, but it provides a wonderful framework for having direction. It’s easy to maintain your forward direction when you can see what you’re aiming for. Life isn’t so simple, and sometimes it’s hard to see the difference between forwards and sideways. Sometimes they only reveal themselves with hindsight. Right now, I feel like I’m most definitely moving sideways. My actual climbing is probably moving backwards, mainly due to the lack of it, but that’s a physical limitation and so I can’t do anything about it and it doesn’t worry me in a simple sense. But once I lose my ability to go climbing I lose a major focus and direction in my life. I’ve never wanted climbing to be my whole life, for I think it’s unhealthy to only have 1 dimension. But without the carrot in front of my eyes it’s much easier to look around. Without my goals and direction being largely climbing based, I feel a little bit freer to take a look around me and see what’s on offer. It’s usually at these (massively rare) points in my life that I suddenly start to think that maybe climbing isn’t what I want to be doing. Perhaps I want to go back to Uni and learn some more, or perhaps I want to plough my energy into some career path. I end up facing all these huge life changing questions but never coming up with an answer. Maybe I’m not asking the right questions. I want to know what it is that I really want to do, and I usually answer myself by saying there are lots of things that I really want to do. But how do I choose one of them? Sometimes I simply recover from my injury and I return to climbing, return to my natural (or should that be nurtured?) home amongst the rocks of the world. Then I suddenly feel at peace again, as if I should be nowhere else in the world other than trying that particular route/boulder problem. But could it simply be the case that I’m most at peace solely because of re-finding my comfort zone? I guess it’s possible, and to be perfectly honest I don’t know the true answer. I can only say that I’m searching for it. I’m left with a feeling of uncertainty about whether to ask myself such questions, questions which I struggle to understand whether or not can even be answered. I always thought that asking questions was the right thing to do, but could I perhaps have been wrong? The comedy of my previous sentence doesn’t evade me, not at all.

As for right now, in this moment, I don’t have my climbing. I’m being held away from it, and I have been for quite some time. I’ve almost forgotten what it feels like to be stood amongst the boulders of Ticino, gazing out at snowy mountain peaks, feeling a cold breeze against my face, and breathing in so deep and so hard that I want never to exhale. Almost forgotten. I can never truly forget because it’s so much a part of me that it will always exist deep down. For now, I’m left looking for a path into the future, and right now I have no idea where that path will lead.  There can be no doubt that I’m moving sideways, which is something I guess, but it doesn’t sit comfortably with me. I don’t like moving sideways. I want progress. That’s just who I am. The last couple of months have sat a little uncomfortably with me, as I’m not moving towards something that I desire. Now I’m finally realising this and trying to figure out what the next step is. Hopefully clarity will drop by soon.

It seems to me that sometimes realising where you want to go is harder than getting there.