Life lessons from rock climbing
Small thoughts on how rock climbing has the ability to shape the way we approach life, and some training/life lessons from pro climbers.
3 min read
Waterpeople say that the ocean doesn’t discriminate: everyone is equal and subject to the forces of le grand bleu. But I think the same occurs with rock climbing. It doesn’t matter you are rich or poor, gay or straight, tall or short, man or woman. The lines of rock are the same for everybody. I believe, though, there is an important difference: instead of playing under the rules of an external body - the water - rock climbers are just subject to a perhaps larger, more temperamental and sometimes less predictable force: our own body, our own mind, our own selves.
The rock remains still. Our ways of moving and thinking become fluid and unable to replicate on each ascent. Whenever we take off from the ground we are a different climber, carrying some learnt or unlearnt lessons each time.
This constant exercise of playing with ourselves, analysing the scenario and building up different strategies according to our perception of our own physical and mental capabilities leaves room to a whole lot of self-learning. And these values we take are for most of us a solid foundation of how we approach the rest of our world.
I can give one example. When I was in high school and all through university, I regularly participated in regional and a few national sport-climbing and bouldering competitions. I believe that the experience of dealing with pressure in front of a big group of people, having to deliver my best in only one attempt, helped me to successfully cruise through my university exams and public talks through the studies of Architecture. Studying, rehearsing and writing couldn't be worse than having only 1 shot at a difficult climb in front of 100 people, right?
I am a true believer that rock climbing and bouldering are awesome training tools to practice strategic thinking and acquire grounded values that will become handy sometime later in "normal life". I just gathered a few lessons from professional rock climbers that I think are worth reading every now and then to remind ourselves that we have the chance to choose how we approach our own actions (and are linked to the interview/video, so go check them out for some inspiration!).
“I suppose [climbing] can be a metaphor for life. Life requires hard work and frustration, making mistakes, failing again and again. Learning how to enjoy the process and flow with it, as hard as it may be, that describes what I try to do.”
“I can’t control circumstances, but I can sign this contract with myself to be ready when things take a sharp turn.”
“Accept what’s happened, and know everything changes, everything is always coming and going, that as painful as this moment is—it too will pass.”
In a later post I will talk about the lessons and approaches that rock climbing, bouldering and now surfing are teaching me. Do you have any life lesson from your sport or activity that has determined the way you’ve faced life at some point? Keen to hear from you.