My Love for Rock Climbing
Updated: Jul 26, 2020
I was never athletic. I performed fairly in all my PE classes for any sports with the exception of swimming. Having a habit of exercising routine was not really a thing when I was growing up in Taiwan, especially for girls. Boys would go out playing basketball because of NBA influence and maybe baseball because we have professional baseball league. When I was still living in Taiwan, personal gyms were more a vanity thing for fancy people in Taipei city because of how expensive the memberships cost, plus there were very few of them. That probably sums up the big picture of how little sports take part in the daily life back in my youth.
My first time visiting rock climbing gym was in 2016. It was the end of the spring and I was trying to do something new after a big breakup. I remember vividly that last week of April, I visited the same gym 3 times. Monday to take an introduction class; Wednesday and Friday to use the free day-pass I got from a good friend of mine. The following Monday, May 1st, I went to REI, bought my first pair of climbing shoes and headed straight to the gym, signed up for monthly membership. That was it.
The seed of a new passion.
At first it was more of a casual thing, though I visited my gym often. I would go every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. At that same period of time, I found a Capoeria studio near my gym and had classes there Tuesday, Thursday. For two months, that was my life, trying hard to find myself again through new adventures. But, my energy soon worn out. I got busy with my very first production in New York City that Fall, a remounting show in Theatre for The New Audience. Then a few family tragedies hit, my depressive episode followed and it stayed with me for a longgggg while. I paused my gym membership, quit Capoeria and was barely living.
My love for rock climbing didn’t die and was always lurking in the back of my mind. In 2018, with my TV/Film paychecks, I was determined to make rock climbing a major part of my life. I took some group classes, learned some basic techniques but still wanted more. In September, a birthday gift to myself, I started training with a personal coach. That was probably the best birthday gift I had ever gotten.
To me, rock climbing is my active meditation. I am physically and mentally challenged at all time. It is never boring and I don’t have to do the same thing over and over again like a lap rat trapped in the tiny cage running the giant plastic wheel. Every problem on the wall is a puzzle and you have to find away to solve it. You can certainly copy other climbers if you want but it doesn’t always work because everyone is different, different body types; different body builds; different climbing styles. When ever I am climbing, I am actively involved in all dimensions, observing my mind and feeling my muscles.
You would be amazed how much rock climbing forcing you to learn about yourself. It is a demanding sport that require delicate balance between your mind and body. Your character show through your movements on the wall.
First challenge people encounter when start climbing is falling. Doesn’t matter how strong you are, falling is part of climbing. It is surprising how difficult it is to let go and let yourself smash into the giant safety mat on the floor. It was a lesson that took me a long time to overcome to continue progressing. Logically, I know the mats beneath me are safe and are there to give me support but mentally not controlling my body is incredibly taxing. Climbing made me work through my fear of letting go, believing myself, building up my faith to leap and many more. These characters are such common human conditions but not many of us pay attention and learn to work with them in our lives.
My friends and I always joke about rock climbing being a colt. Once you are hooked, that is all you think about and talk about. It was such a rewarding spiritual journey and I have grown so much because of it. Mind and body work together make me whole. The physical strength build up in me. Every session I push my limit and learn new characters about myself. Day after day, my body and mind mend themselves after years of separation. I have never been happier.
I had never expected a sport could help me so much in navigating my life challenges. My growth after I started climbing stimulates new energy and joy that make me so much stronger, both mentally and physically. Because of my personal experience, I am eager to sharing rock climbing with as many people as possible. It’s definitely worth trying!