Last week I got tossed. Imagine a 4X8 space littered with maps, cables, bedding, food, dishes, and plastic bags. The space was my van and it looked like a bear had gotten inside and wreacked havoc. But I was not in Yosemite—I was at home in Boulder. I’d slept in my bed for three of fifteen nights and had been welcomed home by the local squad.
It was eleven in the morning. It was already 98-degrees. My dog was still at the sitters. I had skipped breakfast. I lost it.
People get robbed all the time. The recent wash of auto-thieves in Boulder is nothing new. But this was not a car. This is my van, my home. I sleep there. This is something the thieves surely understood as they pulled out my sheets and comforter and wound it around the seats as they searched for what goods the bedding might hide.
It all went back together easily enough. Save some radios, a pee funnel, a few electronic connections, a first aid kit, three headlamps and a pillow, it all seems intact. But even as I vacuumed up the crumbs of the smashed chips I wondered what I was supposed to be understand from the event.
“Things happen for a reason,” that’s what people say, right? I don’t know if I believe that. I think I would say that things happen. How you deal with them creates your life. I spent the better part of my twenties dealing with car accidents and fallouts. They always happened at significant times. They always happened when I was going too fast. I’m doing nothing if not going too fast right now.
I like fast. I’ve decided I do fast well. I zipped from Denver to Squamish, BC, to Minneapolis in the weeks before the tossing. I looked at new Sky Mall issues and noticed the I Muff— a disturbing name for a new set of headphones that cradle your ears. I got confirmed in the fast-track Clear line at airports with my fingerprints and retinal scans recorded and cataloged. I did a 19-hour, airport-to-airport turnaround at home.
Fast gets addictive. I know those thieves must have been thinking that when they picked my van. “This woman,” they likely said to each other, “needs to slow the hell down.”
I used to think I had slow in me and just didn’t know how to show it. That was when I wanted to live off the grid with my organic garden and cluster of goats. Now I’m rather into the alternative. But I also feel like it’s time for this. I tell this to my full-time climbing friends and they pass me a reproachful beer.
Climbing is not an efficient pastime. I always say that if it were more like running, and we could just go out for a quick one, climbers would be more functional members of society. But instead we allow this sport to become its own force in our lives. I’m the same. I work and climb right now. I wish I could tell you otherwise. I’m can be more balanced and add in some art museums/music/cooking/lectures. But that’s not happening right now. It’s summer. It’s when the mania is in full effect.
That same mania might have had to do with the two climbers who were soloing a popular route in Eldorado Canyon a few weeks back. Two climbers who each fell to the ground on the same route. The second during the funeral service for the first. It’s horrific. It’s real. It adds up.
There is a courtesy rule we all extend to each other when taking risks—talk about them after taking them. But as more people die from climbing, this line is starting to blur. Now I talk about these things on the way to the crag, not just on the way home.
I don’t have all the connections at this point. But I know they all go together. I know getting robbed, taking risks, going fast, staying up late—it all is the same energy. It’s the delicious lightness we all feel when we’re stretched across life. It’s where every pinprick is decidedly real and twangs at our souls. This is human. But so is the fall out.