Climbing is a great sport and hobby. It helps you to become stronger, fitter, and more flexible. What’s more, it’s a workout for body and mind: you have to solve problems, focus on your whole body, and be completely present in the moment. It’s mindfulness in practice.
Today, however, was not a great day for me and my beloved pass time. Both body and mind were tired, I was unusually scared of falling off, and my fingers were ruined from climbing earlier in the week. I’d had enough even before I was properly warmed up. Frustration set in early as my feet slipped off normally secure footholds, every handhold seemed out of reach, every swing lacked lustre, and every stretch was too far away. I slammed my hands on the mats, huffed and puffed, and was ready to go home less than half an hour in.
Then it was clear what I had to do (mainly because a friend advised me, and they were right): when it’s not working, when things that normally go your way don’t, step back and do all the things you know you can do.
Decision made. I stopped trying to do the Greens (problems are colour coded by difficultly) and move back a step to the Whites. Round I went, throwing myself up problems below my capability. Again and again, I did problems I’d done before – although I found them harder than usual – and again and again I got to the top. I didn’t feel great, but I did feel better. I’d recognised that things weren’t going as I wanted and made a decision not to push, not today anyway.
Then I started falling off again. So I had another decision to make: With fingers screaming, muscles aching and motivation at zero, I decided that enough was enough. I’d tried and it wasn’t working.
Not today, anyway.
Not this time.
And that’s okay. Giving up is okay sometimes. It’s okay when you know you’ll come back and try again. It’s okay when it’s about putting something on hold, not putting it away forever.
You can’t give up all the time, of course, but for today, my body was telling me it was feet up time and I listened. I’ll go back. I’ll get back on the proverbial horse. But for today, the biggest achievement was realising there was no achievement to be had. I’ll play the long game, take the rough with the smooth and spew out cliches for a while longer, happy in the knowledge that today I was beat and being beaten needn’t be so terrible.