This past week has been flippin’ intense. Oh my goddess, where do I begin? Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids? Top Rope Climbing in Malibu Creek Park? Author meeting with Raphael Sonenshein? The selection process for my upcoming potential publishing? Skulrot @ Scotland Yard in Canoga Park? Upcoming documentary about urban gardening in Sylmar?
Okay I just flipped a several sided coin, and I am going to start by expanding on the latest and greatest moment within my life: Top rope climbing in Malibu Creek! Imagine if you will, you’re heading to the beach, driving from the San Fernando Valley, and then realize that what you really want is some shaded peace and quiet. Hesitant, you continue driving, ignoring your inner voice that says “be one with nature.” Soon after you see a sign on your right, “Malibu Creek State Park.”
The inner voice says “turn, park, climb”
A short hike later, past dry river beds, over grandfather stones and alongside pools of water the first location is sighted; a wall of stone, some sixty odd feet reaching towards the sky. Parts of the walls have chalk– tell tales signs that other climbers have been here before.
Well, that’s how the adventure began. The voice, was veteran climber, Lance, a mutual friend of myself and Tristan. After we put on our harnesses, shoes, and set up our belay system, we took turn scaling various walls. To say that I was completely blown away by the experience would be an understatement.
In reality, I think that the feeling easily compared to my experience with tandem sky diving–something I tried a few years back. Climbing in Malibu Creek, however provided me the same sort of experience but it came with a intimate interaction with nature. Whereas skydiving allowed me to see nature from a detached perspective; top rope climbing allowed me to see nature, as nature sees itself– the grandfather rocks providing the highest peaks for those perspectives.
As I held onto the elder rock, my fingers covered in chalk, my body full of oxygen I couldn’t stop but feel blessed, grateful and humbled by the beauty that is our world. Funny that I should have to climb, to explore the limitations of my body, in order to (re)discover this very simple fact; we are all connected.
A short fall on my second descend (approximately six odd feet) reminded me of the interconnectivity that I was experiencing while climbing. My belay partner was quick to act as my right foot slipped from a foothold, causing me to hold all my weight by my upper body. I attempted to regain my position, and instead panicked, causing the depth of my breath to shrink. With a mere seven feet to go I had lost my sense of self and present moment awareness. I had confidently scaled the wall, courageously descended and at the finish line I choked–well sort of.
While the descend was an almost complete success for myself, it was a triumph for my belay partner, who made sure that my landing was smooth. I landed, arms spread out, toes fiercely gripping into the rocks, as my eyes were set on the location that I could have landed.
Our eyes zeroed in on one another, “you okay?”
“Yea. You alright?” I asked, still catching my breath.
“Did you hit anything on the way down?”
I paused, checked myself, “No.”
“Thanks. I almost had it.”
“Grandfather Rock has many lessons.”
“Good climb” Tristan said as he tossed his hand out for a fist bump.
“Fuck yeah buddy.” I walked over, still shaken, to meet my chalky fist with his yellow gloved fist.
As I reflect on my recent experience, not with death, but with life, I am humbled and reminded of the special place I hold on this planet. Even in moments of perceived danger I am, as I have always been, safe. Without a doubt, the weeks of training, endurance building and conditioning have been worth it. Yesterday, as I looked out from Grandfather rock, with the sunset off in the distance I knew that I had earned my fall.