Human beings aren’t fit to fall from heights. Yesterday I tested this theory and anecdotally proved it to be correct. Downclimbing the Bridger Jack Mesa to the rappel route, I slipped and fell 15 feet, hitting the deck, butt-first. Extreme lower back pain made me realize that I am, in fact, not a cat. Ouch.
I have a lot to be thankful for. After doing a hodge-podge job of clearing my own spine (all the while asking, “wait, am I really a reliable patient?”) and making sure nothing other than my back was injured, I was able to descend with the help of my partner Travis, and make it back to the van without issue. It’s just a compression fracture, and it’s just one vertebrae. My spinal cord is in tact. I didn’t bounce, or roll, or keep falling off the cliff mere feet to my left. I have a lot to be thankful for.
The same day, I received word from Arc’teryx that they’d like to bring me on as the Seattle store ambassador, a position that is certainly the largest sponsorship I’ve ever had. Though I am in no way a professional athlete, it is an honor to be recognized, supported, and rewarded for doing what I love; I’m also extremely excited to have a creative outlet and help out such an amazing company.
Highs, and lows. Highs and lows.
Hiking back to our van last week in Indian Creek, leaving the last rays of sun on the brilliantly red cliffs and meandering through the long shadows in what has become my favorite time of day in my favorite place on earth, Matty said to me, “Respect the lows, they’re important too.” I’m not sure what he was referring to: I was psyched on climbing that day, I had tried hard, my body and mind felt like they were working well. Maybe he was just reminding me of something I tend to forget: that life is ephemeral. Things change. Each moment, though everything at the time, is just a moment. And then the next moment comes, and then the next.
The other day I bailed off of The Incredible Hand Crack at the Supercrack Buttress in Indian Creek. I still haven’t sent the Incredible Hand Crack. Granted, I tried to lead it with only two #2s this time, as opposed to the probably 14 that I had on my harness three years ago on my first trip to the Creek. But still, a few years of solid climbing later, and I still can’t send this undeserving nemesis. Low.
I have five weeks of dream climbing planned this spring with my crusher friend Quinn, a dream-come-true partner who’s more psyched than me (woah), fit, strong, and motivated. We want to do big things, things I’ve hardly dared to dream about, and I at least know she’s incredibly capable. High.
Yesterday I ended my day of climbing in the Moab ER. Recovery time unknown. Low.
I get to partner with Arc’teryx. High.
One moment I’m bailing off a 5.10, the next I’m sending a 5.11+. One moment I’m healthy and strong, climbing up the Bridger Jacks, the next moment I’m popping ibuprofen, immobile, with an ice pack on my back. I am surrounded by incredible people; then I am alone. I am inspired; then lost. Productive; bored. Active; idle. Content; longing. At peace; wondering. Healthy. Injured. High. Low.
Highs. And lows. Highs and lows. Highsandlows. Highsandlows hiiiggghhhssssaannnndddllloowwsss.
It all blends together, and really, it’s just life. It’s beautiful, and hard, and messy, and wonderful; blended all together, well, it’s just good. Really, really good. If I cling to the highs, the lows will knock me off a pedestal. If I cling to the lows, I miss a lot of beauty and grace. So I’ll keep my perspective big enough to see both; thankful for the highs, knowing their passing nature, and respecting the lows, knowing they create balance, knowing their existence alone makes the highs what they are. And knowing that they too can pass. Perspective is key; the mix is just right.
Because if the nature of life mirrors moments of reality at all, I know how quickly things can change. How quickly things can fall. Ouch.