At some point, we will hit a literal bump in the road, and our new camper will definitely break in half, our bed will smash down onto our heads, and we’ll learn our forever lesson about trying to live a life that makes us happy. Until then, we’ll just keep not taking the hint. Our maiden voyage, like most new things, felt a lot like trying to puke on someone else from a rollercoaster, but throwing up into the air instead, not understanding what direction your body is travelling through space, and slamming straight into your own floating vomit ribbons.
All human life is spent trying not to fail at any more things. Reassuringly, nature’s first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold. So even she fails, and we get seasons. Failing can take infinite forms: burning food, hurting yourself, and letting everyone down. Generally, barfing is a sure sign of failure. You take a risk, you fail, and puke comes out. When walking into the boulders, hikers ask about our crash pads. With bright eyes we explain that they are for rock climbing, and they say, “Oh, in case you fall, I get it!” But there’s no “in case.” It’s inevitable, climbing is falling. I should say, “They are for falling off rocks.” Maybe you can’t identify with any of this because you’re not a walking train wreck, you have a shiny golden face, and all your wheelies are eternal, but you have definitely failed at something, and will most definitely fail at something else again.
If all those internet trolls wondered why Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson were wasting their lives doing something as useless as climbing the Dawn Wall, then boy are they going to be disappointed in me. There’s nothing like a glued-together cave problem with a drop-off finish in a world class bouldering area to make you question what the hell you are doing with your life. Fortunately, if you look into the cave with the right kind of eyes, you will find the definitive answer to soothe any existential crisis: Going sideways, to that glued jug, DUH.
Well here you are, lost in a maze. It could be haunted and made of corn, or you might be stuck inside of a cheap plastic toy, with a tiny ball bearing ever in pursuit. It’s none of my business. Eventually you will happen upon a dead end (a legitimate one, not a wall… that seems to have features on it…), where the only way out is to turn around. Except, sometimes it isn’t that simple. Sometimes, there is a family of bears waiting for you to turn around, ready to savor your flesh while you call your mom and tell her you’re dying. Sometimes, you turn around only to discover yourself in superposition, already having turned around, finding yourself eating a Schrodinger’s catdog. Sometimes, you turn around and see yourself hunched over in a terrible superposition, not even knowing which end of the Schrodinger’s catdog you are supposed to eat first.
If you’ve never asked a 3 year old to guess your age, put that on your bucket list. I’ve been put anywhere from 5 to 100. They usually guess below 10 because you must be however old the other big kids they know are. If they don’t guess “big kid age,” they usually guess the highest number they know, because the older you get, the bigger you get. Little kids don’t understand peaks or primes of life. To them, age, strength, and “bigness” are directly proportional.
“Who shall call them from the grey twilight, the forgotten people? The heir of him to whom the oath they swore. From the North shall he come, need shall drive him: he shall pass the Door to the Paths of the Dead.”
-Malbeth the Seer
In this passage, Tolkien was actually referring to the boulderer’s destiny of climbing at Priest Draw. You shall walk the paths of the dead, and the forgotten people will fulfill their oath: to let you cam your flesh into their bomber limestone pockets.