Determination and Relinquishment
“Decide what it is you want. Write that shit down. Make a fucking plan. and….work on it. Every. Single. Day.” - Elizabeth Gilbert
WHEN I DECIDED I wanted to get to the top of rock towers on my own I invested time and energy into learning about the gear, reading anchor building books, and seeking out proper mentors. I practiced building anchors at the North Point at Smith Rock and Broughton Bluff. I took the AMGA single-pitch instructor course through KAF adventures in Seattle, Washington. It was expensive and worth every penny. I listened to the Enormocast. I read The Rock Warrior's Way. I trained my mental game. When I went outside, I pushed myself to bring the trad rack even though sport climbing seemed like a cozier option. I also just threw myself into situations where I hard to learn on the spot (thank you Leavenworth, lower gorge at Smith, and Devil's Tower). At times my eagerness led me to make some unsafe choices, but I have made it out alive this far. I’ve learned a lot about assessing risk over this last year of trad climbing and now trust myself and my decisions. When I choose to push beyond my limits I trust that the outcome will be growth. I trust that I will back down from a challenge if it is truly necessary. Toeing the line between risk and reward is tricky, and takes a large amount of emotional intelligence. It’s something I have to constantly work on. I often ask what are my true motivations and intentions? Am I doing this for my ego, or is it for growth?
KILLING THE EGO
I apply this to every other situation in my life: relationships, work, and interactions with strangers in daily life. I apply this to trail runs. I apply this to what products I buy at the store. I practice intention, presence, and killing the ego. I apply this to situations that have not gone as planned, or situations in which I would have liked the outcome to be different. I try to let go of what I can’t change because when we try to force things it only feels like hurt. Instead of hurting I would like to feel light. I remind myself that I am free to choose a different path if the one that I have tried isn’t working.
My advice is to shift and pivot into a new path. We create our realities. Check in with yourself and note what it is that you most want and most desire. What is it that will better you? That will help you to be your True Self? It is important to note that True Self has no self. When we are doing what is true, we become that thing. When we are fully present, there is only the present moment. When we wash the dishes, if we are truly washing the dishes, then there is only the washing of dishes. When we are running, if we are truly running, then there is only running. When we are talking with a friend, if we are truly talking with them, then there is only that conversation. When we are reflecting on past events, reflect on past events. When you are at the crux of a route, focus on that moment, let it be the crux, and do what is needed. Move up and commit. Commit to the moment. Commit to being present.
When we are fully present this means we have successfully killed our ego. It usually lasts only briefly because permanently killing the ego means that you have reached enlightenment, and as far as I can tell, reaching enlightenment is incredibly difficult. But there can be glimpses of it throughout your life to be certain. When you are in a relationship that is floundering, hurting, or at a stalemate, take a step back. Let it be, and assess what needs to happen. Take a moment to check in. Space and time is underrated.
LET YOURSELF CHOOSE THE STORIES YOU TELL YOURSELF
In terms of what can be done, let yourself choose instead of being controlled by the stories you have told yourself since you were young. Let yourself choose instead of holding yourself back as if you have no options. I realized I had immense power after a bad breakup. It was a co-dependent, toxic relationship that started with the most idyllic romance. I couldn’t believe it was ending. I couldn’t let it go. Though when I realized I had been stuck in my story, stuck in this image of what I wanted it to be, stuck in what reality was not, I began to own up to what it was. I started to see that what was in front of me was the reality and I had to own that. I had to start acting on what was happening and stop focusing on what I wanted to happen. I had to start creating my own reality, make my own decisions, and start leading myself down a path where I had the power to respond. I realized that I could enact my own personal, well-informed decisions. I began seeing myself as a determiner for any instance I found myself in. I began seeing opportunities instead of challenges.
THE UNKNOWN AND THE TOTALITY OF THE UNIVERSE
Every day we go into the unknown, whether it’s getting on a rock face, going up a mountain, picking up the phone, driving to work, heading down a trail, or entering or exiting a relationship. We have the power to choose how we respond to the outcomes. We can plan, but we also have to be prepared for the plans to unravel. That’s where the real adventure begins. We must embrace the unraveling, the chaos, the questions, the uncertainty. When we stop being afraid to address the unknown we begin to feel brave and then can make powerful decisions. Usually embracing the unknown comes with a heavy dose of compassion. We are all going down paths unknown and if we remember how complex the world is, that it’s not black and white, that it is not one dimensional, and that there is oneness, than this means that we are welcoming growth and on the path to becoming our True Selves.
Mostly the unknown means change. With change comes death. Death of something. That might mean death of a previous thought, belief, or death of a preconceived notion. Change brings about fear in people because it messes with the ways in which we have constructed our world views. Change alters the way we have come to understand our experience as a human on this earth. If we can start seeing change as death, and death not as a negative thing, but a positive thing, than we can see that in death there is renewal. With death comes birth. Because death and life are opposite sides of the same coin. We need to remember oneness. It is when we start fearing the unknown that we have forgotten about oneness. Hidden behind our external differences, hidden behind the illusion of a separate “self,” a separate body that confronts an “external” world of people and things, there is the truth that we have come out of this world. We are of the false belief that we have come into it. We are “an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe,” as Alan Watts explains in The Book. There is an implicit unity, which the Vendata describes as the Self, “the one-without a second,” the what there is and the all there is which conceals itself in the form of you.
DETERMINATION AND RELINQUISHMENT
Though we may not be able to control the outcome of any situation, though we may not be able to control the unknown, we can elect to let go of our desire to control. Because control is a facade. I like to be motivated, to make plans, and to be determined. I have goals and plans to climb epic peaks. But I am also in constant reconciliation with the fact that I cannot predict, know, and control what will exactly happen.
But what can I do then? I can decide how I spend my time. I can decide what is deserving of my energy and who it is that I want to interact with. Where do I want to spend my money? I can choose what I study and where I travel. I can decide if what I have stepped into is curse or opportunity. I can choose how I speak to people, and choose how I perceive my exchanges with others. I can choose my words. I can choose to try. If I have exhausted my efforts and best intentions, I can let go. Because ultimately we cannot control others, we can learn when it is time to keep trying and when it is time to pivot our energy. I can choose my thoughts and this has been the most liberating of all realizations. I can change my internal dialogue. I can assess and reflect on my stories - the stories I have told myself since I was young and the stories that I was fed. I can change them. I can tell myself new stories. In this way I create my reality. While maintaining a healthy distance from this ego that I call “myself,” I do not wash away the fact that true self has no self, and that each individual reality is one reality. The only reality.
I function simultaneously in determination and relinquishment.