A couple of weeks ago we had the chance to go rock climbing with our friends at an indoor gym.
The gym was divided in two parts: One for regular climbing, with equipment including harness and rope. The other for bouldering, or climbing without gear.
Guess which one Anna enjoyed best.
The area meant for bouldering had the floor covered with a very thick, cushy mattress, in case anyone should fall. It was so much fun watching the kids climb up the wall, run down the stairs and climb all over again.
Being in this place brought back a lot of memories of when I used to rock climb. We would go to a beautiful place in the outskirts of my hometown back in Mexico, called La Huasteca:
It is beautiful beyond words.
The area is what I can best describe as desert, with countless species of cacti– many of which are considered endangered and can be found only here.
On a typical day it was common to see goats hoping from rock to rock, always followed closely by their shepherd, and the occasional lizard who would peek from between a gap on the wall– sometimes from the precise spot where you were planning to grip while climbing. Then you’d find yourself politely asking the lizard to move out of the way, and they usually would. Though I doubt they were too happy.
Climbing these rocks was always a surreal experience. I remember that during the climbs I could sense myself gaining great awareness of my body: My breathing, the movements of every muscle, the mind going blank in complete focus of what had to be done to take the next step. While climbing there was no tomorrow, no past, no what-ifs. It was all silence.
I didn’t realize it then, but I learned so much about myself. Upon reaching the top came the sense of achievement, but strangely enough that isn’t what I recall the most. The most intense sensation was an overwhelming feeling of empowerment and humbleness, all at the same time. I felt so small surrounded by these magnificent stone walls that have witnessed time since before time itself. And yet, I felt like I was a part of them.
I can’t know for sure how Anna felt when she climbed, but I think it’s safe to say she had a good time.
At some point, while we were on the side of the gym that requires equipment (and of which I have no pictures because I had to be pulling the rope so my kid wouldn’t hit the floor), the instructor mentioned that each ‘route’ had different difficulty levels: From 5.4 being the easiest, to 5.12 being the most difficult. He suggested we keep the kids away from the 5.9’s and greater, so they wouldn’t find it as hard. Anna (fortunately) was too busy being a giggly, excited little girl to even hear what was being said. Something told me I knew better than to repeat it.
She later climbed a 5.11 without a problem.
I think that the moment that we provide the child with a limit, a cut-off point beyond which success is going to be “difficult” for them (based of course, on our own twisted view of how the world is supposed to work) the child will likely believe it. Why wouldn’t they? We’re the adults. We would never lie to them, right? That’s what we keep telling them, forgetting to mention that we may however, impose unfounded limits upon them based solely on our own previous experiences and failures, which nothing have to do with them.
So bless a child’s joyful noise and occasional disinterest in listening to every word adults have to say. Sometimes selective hearing comes in darn handy.