My roommate Jeff and I woke up at 6:30 this morning to climb a big mountain. The plan was to climb up a snow-filled gully (which itself is about 2,500’ feet long) that goes to the top of a particular 11,000-foot mountain that isn’t too far from our house. This climb would require crampons (spikes that you attach to your boots so you can walk/climb on the snow) and ice axes. I’ve done this type of climbing many times over the last few years, but this would be Jeff’s first.
And along those lines, I’ve been getting outside a lot recently; I’m in pretty good mountaineering shape. Jeff has been working and been busy getting engaged. Jeff is in pretty good marriage shape, I guess.
About a thousand feet into the climb, Jeff looked over at me and said, “Tristan, thanks for being so patient. Not just now but every time we go climbing.”
This struck me because I am actually an incredibly impatient person. Everyone who knows me knows this. But it’s true; I’m extremely patient when it comes to climbing. I’ve been climbing for 15 years, and I’m patient even when I take a complete beginner climbing at an area that I’ve been to dozens of times.
Why am I so patient when it comes to climbing yet so impatient when it comes to, well, everything else? Here are some reasons that can be applied to anything you want to be patient with (not just climbing).
1. I enjoy the journey – When I’m out climbing, I’m not in a rush to get anywhere. I enjoy it for what it is. I don’t care if we make it to the top of the cliff or the mountain. Just being outside is what I enjoy.
2. I want to share – Climbing is an extremely important part of my life. I’ve been doing it longer than pretty much anything else besides walking, breathing, eating, sleeping, and pooping. It’s something that has taken me to incredible places and given me some of my greatest memories. It’s soothing, it’s relaxing, and it’s what I do to get away; it’s my yoga and my beer.
I want other people to experience that, too. It’s too good of a thing to keep to myself!
3. I think of others’ well-being – I know that climbing can scare people. It’s not in everyone’s comfort zone to cling to giant rocks with your fingers and toes. I want people to enjoy the experience, and I know that if I rush them or freak out on them, they’ll probably freak out themselves. I try to minimize the scariness.
4. I understand the big picture – Sometimes when I take new climbers out climbing, I don’t get to climb as much as I normally would or as fast or hard as I normally would. But I’m OK with that because I understand that there’s more to my climbing career than just that one day out. I can always go back and spend more time there or climb harder and faster. There’s no rush.
5. I know that impatience is dangerous – If I make someone feel like they need to hurry up while climbing, they’re more likely to make a mistake. And making a mistake while climbing can be life-ending for everyone involved. Not good.
Jeff and I didn’t end up making it to the top of the mountain. He had new boots on and was getting wicked blisters on his heels, so we turned back. And you know what? I wasn’t disappointed or frustrated at all. The mountain will be around for a while and if everything goes according to plan, so will I.
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