It began with noticing the challenge to get the kiddos to try hard. There was no enthusiasm or real vibrancy. I would go to the gym and look at the routes with a critical eye. That one might just be reachy. Oh... that one has a dyno, not for me. Eventually I would find myself on the kilter board making up my own routes, or telling myself I was only going to work on my recovery and sticking to super easy routes.
Easily bored and not find the excitement and fulfillment of trying hard, I would end the session early or become distracted with conversation. The result of my lack of focus on improving and lack of effort in trying hard, led to an inevitable stagnancy in my performance. As a woman nearing my sixth decade of life, it only becomes harder and harder to maintain any level of performance. The whole house of cards was beginning to tumble.
An avid self reflector, it led to examining how I was showing up, or not as the case maybe. Then I heard this phrase, "quiet quitting" which describes just not putting in the fullness of effort. Choosing consciously to only do what is required. It is a current trend in the workplace. According to a Gallup.com article, the stats in 2022 are getting worse with the number of engaged workers reducing and the number of quiet quitters increasing.
Although climbing is supposed to be a recreational pursuit, for some it is more of a means to focus and bring fulfillment with the every elusive next level. But that is not the case so much anymore. The birthday party mentality toward climbing is pervading the gyms. It makes sense. In a world where nuclear war is present, people are displaced by war or hurricanes, and wild fires, or stuck in limbo by a global pandemic, a very timeless question arises.... What is the point? This question has cycled around my brain for the past few years now. I have worked hard and tried to be a good human, tried bettering myself, tried to maintain healthy habits, and where am I? In a world that seems to be falling apart with the very stark realization that in the end we all die.
On one level this is a very depressing thought. If the very existence of our lives has no meaning, then why bother with all the pain and suffering that goes along with life. And I suppose if you read the news about mass shootings and the rise in suicide, it seems more and more people are living and dying with this very depressing thought.
Perhaps the question isn't "What's the point." Perhaps the better question is "What and how can I contribute to life in this moment?" This is a pretty natural question, but one I think most folks answer with a move toward what brings them more pleasurable experiences. I know I can purchase new tops and the dopamine hit lasts to the last first wearing of the shirt. Actually, that's an exaggeration. Often it only lasts to the thought - "don't stain this thing!"
No, unfortunately the answer doesn't lie with the next purchase or pleasant experience. I think the answer lies with the service we provide others. The things I remember most are the moments where someone I was coaching "got it" and realized just how much potential they had. The moments where I was holding my child and comforting him during an uncomfortable experience. The moment where I was smiling as I watched people enjoy the routes I had created.
Just like my dad on his deathbed, remembering what he contributed to something greater than himself - the point of my life is not what I gain for myself, it is what I give to something bigger than me. It is the experiences I have had a small hand in shaping that give joy, fulfillment, and love to others.