Happy second Gotcha Day, bud. You got a good serious face going, but I know you’re just a doofus inside. Just. A. Doofus. Aroooo.

I’m so fucking pissed off at myself, so I’m leaving this note here because sometimes, “all’s well that ends well” isn’t enough and because I’m still processing what happened. Today, I almost wrecked on my bike (and it would’ve been a bad wreck) because I wasn’t paying enough attention and I was on auto-pilot and I made a stupid assumption that I shouldn’t have. I avoided a bad collision by about two inches by the grace of timing and my immediate responsiveness, but the whole thing was entirely preventable and nobody’s fault except my own.

This is un-fucking-acceptable.

I can deal with other people being sloppy on the road; yeah, it sucks that some people are too self-absorbed to care about whether other people live or die, but I know it’s not personal. The only thing I can control out there is what I do, so I’m never allowed to lazy or complacent, not with the kind of devastating consequences being careless can lead to on a motorcycle. My approach to riding is “ride today so that I can ride tomorrow,” but apparently, I forgot that shit today.

Goddamnit, I’m so angry and so sorry all at once. I need to go practice.

It’s been eight years since she came to live with me as a two year old “adult” cat. (Joke’s on me with these Humane Society rescues and misplaced expectations — I didn’t know that cats could live to be 20, in which case, should a two year old really be called an adult?) She was confined to the house after construction started in our neighborhood a few months ago, but she’s back to being an indoor/outdoor cat lest she drive us both to insanity and she’s really become an incredible hunter. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed, but I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t want to throw up in my mouth a little every time I have to “take care” of a half-dead creature (*ahem* euphemisms) or almost step on a fully-dead creature. You’d think the bloodstains on the driveway would serve as a “stay away” sign, but apparently, our neighborhood has an insane vermin problem. Not in my house, thanks to Miu. (And not in our neighbor’s house… Apparently, Miu charged into their house and sussed out a mouse and they were more than happy to let her carry it off.)

Anyway, I have a folder on my phone called “Things Miu Brought Me” so I made you all a little collage. Click to enlarge at your own risk. Top center is a her latest kill — a rat. A goddamn rat. That she dragged into the house.

T: There aren’t a lot of prime numbers in your 30s.
m: Yeah, 31… And 37?
T: 39. No, that’s 13.
m: That’s weird that the first number you think of is 13. Why not 3?
T: I have more experience putting 13 into 39.
m: …What? That sounds a little promiscuous.

I have really mundane ones. Last night, I dreamt of the using up all the milk and I thought, “Already? Well, I guess I better put that on the grocery list.” And then I woke up and was pleasantly surprised to find half a bottle in the fridge.

Now that I’m in a mental space that allows me to lead into the high-5.11s and pull moves on lead with the confidence I have on top rope without that paralyzing resistance I used to feel leading low-5.10s just a couple weeks ago, I’m left wondering — what happened to the fear?

I guess I should back up first — what is my fear? All the fear I contend with in my everyday life comes from an irrational space. With regards to climbing, I’m tied into a rope, clipped well above decking risk. Rationally, I can understand that I’m not in danger, but I sometimes can’t make myself believe it. This fear is a wasteful use of energy. It’s anxiety; it’s my brain dreaming up the unreal what-ifs that won’t happen, distracting me from what is right in front of me. It’s always my brain, isn’t it?

I know for a fact that the onset of the climbing slump happened when I fell off the daily meditation wagon. A schedule change hit me pretty hard and “I’ll practice tomorrow” turned into weeks of postponement. I also know for a fact that the slump abated when I started meditating every day again.

Meditation is an exercise in disciplining the mind. I can find meditation in my activities (climbing, riding, playing music), but in all those exercises, the focus is diluted by involving more variables (physical movement, auditory input). When I’m sitting, my effort is in keeping my focus on one thing and one thing only. This is how the formal practice differs from the informal practice. In any other activity that might feel meditative, there is no way to limit the focus to just one thing. This isn’t to say that the informal practice isn’t important or invalid (on the contrary, the informal practice is a necessary application to make the formal practice relevant to real life — why practice at all if it only benefits me on the cushion?), but I do believe that there is nothing that can take the place of a formal meditation practice.

The expert expects to find a way to climb through the hard sections so he quickly homes in on that way. He expects to be able to rest, and he finds rest positions. We, on the other hand, home in on the difficulties, the obstacles, and the certainty that we will become exhausted. The expert knows there may be difficult moves, but is confident he will find a way, and that he has enough reserve for a climb of this difficulty. We balk at hard moves because we fear we won’t make it unless we do them exactly right. We fear the moves will exhaust our reserves,and we won’t be able to cope with what follows. These are mental habits produced by our image of our abilities. This image, not our lack of strength or technique, is our most limiting factor.
       Arno Ilgner, “The Rock Warrior’s Way”

I’ve noticed that since I’ve started sitting regularly a couple years ago, I second-guess myself much less often and I regret those split-second decisions less and less all the time. I perceive situations more accurately and I’m able to do it more quickly. Nothing happens in a vacuum, so it makes sense that these changes would affect how I climb, too. It’s helped me see routes from the perch of curiosity, not fear, and I’m able to use my brain for problem-solving, rather than fantasizing fear-inducing scenarios. I don’t know how the practice works; I just know that it does and so, I sit again tonight.

TR 12a[12b stem](11b)
L 11a(11a)
B 3/4(2/3)

I’m finally out of my slump that lasted seemingly-forever and I’ve had multiple personal-record-breaking sessions in the last week — on-sighting high-5.10s/11a’s on lead, plus leading 11d’s indoors. Woopwoop. Climbing (and falling) is fun again! (And a reminder to self: meditation works. Duh.)