Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Mary Oliver poem for today, the first day of Spring...

Snow Geese
Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
to ask
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.

One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was

a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun

so they were, in part at least, golden.  I

held my breath
as we do
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us

as with a match,
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,

but delightfully,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.

The geese
flew on,
I have never seen them again.

Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won't.
It doesn't matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

~by Mary Oliver 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Since starting grad school and immersing myself deeper into the obsessive part of my being that loves visual art, I've been struggling to find equilibrium. As much as I must chase my deep desire to pursue this path, I also have to respect my need to have meaningful personal relationships, a spiritual practice, and among many other important things- to climb. Somedays it's hard to motivate to go train at the gym after drawing for six hours straight, but both art and climbing are integral to who I am, so I slog to the gym and train til my arms burn. Then, in the morning, I draw until my hands ache. Then climb until my arms burn. Repeat.

By the end of last semester, this combo of brutal treatment to my arms, wrists, and hands resulted in some pretty debilitating nerve pain in my right hand. I took a few weeks off of climbing so that I could make it through finals. Once the semester was over, I decided to take a month off of drawing to let my hand recover further, but I needed to climb. I packed up my little Subaru and drove to meet Jonathan Siegrist in Las Vegas for a month of desert climbing. 
From CA to NV
Red Rock, outside of Vegas
On the top of Turtlehead Mountain after seeing a herd of Bighorn Sheep
We spent the majority of the time climbing in Arrow Canyon, a limestone slot canyon about 45 minutes outside of Vegas. I had an awesome time climbing there, sending a few routes that were hard for me and coming painfully close to climbing what would have been my hardest route yet. 
entering the canyon
petroglyph on the canyon walls... wish I knew what it meant.
the warm up- Tangled Up In Blue, 12a

A little moon lit yoga by our campsite
I also spent hours upon hours belaying Jonathan on a project he was working on- an impressive and intimidating route that climbs out of a steep cave- that he recently sent. It was his hardest route to date, and as always, getting to experience the process of trail, defeat, and eventually success was inspiring. On his blog, he described the experience:

"It was exactly what I was looking for; a route that would demand a new level of dedication, psychical and mental strength from me. It was of course frustrating, ego-crushing and difficult throughout but in the end it was a dream come true. I named the route 'Le Rêve', meaning 'the dream' in French."

Jonathan jugging up the route on the first day of effort to begin cleaning it. I took a nap.

Witnessing him try so hard inspires me to not only do the same with my climbing, but also to take that attitude and effort into other arenas of my life. I'm hoping if I constantly muster up the effort to try that hard with my artistic pursuits, then I will also push my personal limits and do great things.

In an email a few days after he sent, he made a similar correlation, writing:

It's so funny. I'm out there, all alone. Forever. Just me, maybe a friend and my dog... and I just beat my head against the wall, failing forever. Nobody cares. Then one day, I do all the moves in a row and go to the top. Thousands of people care. 'Arrow Canyon' on random Spanish, Polish, Italian, French websites. It's crazy stuff. 

You know I was thinking, in a way it's so much like art.... you slave away. in your little room there. Just you, some music. No one knows - no one. Then one day, after all this uncertainty and effort and emotion, you expose the piece to the world. Now everyone is having this reaction to your piece. You're imparting a reaction, an imprint on the world all of sudden, all from those lonely hours spent in your room. 

So here's to everyone out there, chasing greatness in their own way. It can be a lonely pursuit, but it seems far worth it when that goal is realized. Thanks to you all for the inspiration.
moon rise
And thanks to Zeke, for the endless entertainment.

 loves dirt!