Chalk Block

I have wicked-sweaty hands, and after I graduated high school I got huge into rock climbing. I realized very quickly that sweaty hands and climbing don’t mix, so I bought a chalk bag and a squeeze ball full of chalk so that I could cling to the holds better and longer. After a year or so I became a member at a climbing gym and the guy that worked the sales counter asked me If I knew about refillable chalk balls. I told him no. “Well,” he said, “I’ve just seen you buy a bunch of chalk balls recently and it might save you some money to buy a refillable one and a block of chalk to fill it with.” That sounded totally reasonable. I was blowing so much money on chalk anyways, why not get it in bulk? So I bought the bag and the block. Two weeks later I stopped climbing, before I ever even opened the block. I can’t remember why I quit. It probably had something to do with a girl, but whatever the case, I never opened the chalk. I’ve held onto it over the years thinking that I might get back into it one day, but I haven’t yet. I have friends that climb, but somehow for me the drive just isn’t there anymore. “Yeah, yeah… boo hoo, find another hobby, Winy-Face,” is what you’re thinking, and ordinarily you’d be right, but in this case I think that my relationship to climbing has something to tell me about how I behave in relation to the other interests in my life; interests I seem to arbitrarily abandon on a whim.

In retrospect I feel like my drive to climb was more about impressing others than it was about really enjoying the experience of climbing. I learned what I absolutely had to learn in order to show off, but when it came to learning the hard stuff, like proper foot technique or grip strength, something subconscious said, “Naw, that’s not really important. Don’t really wanna try that hard. I’m good.” My complacency was not about disinterest, but motive. My motive was to show off, and foot technique and strength were things that people weren’t going to recognize me for, at least not right away, so I said, “Forget that. I’m just going to do this same route upside down, over and over again, until some noob tells me how cool it is and wants me to teach them, and I’ll just hope that this time it will make me feel better about myself.” Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing repeatedly hoping for a different result? Yeah, that’s why I quit. It had nothing to do with a girl. I just couldn’t break the pattern of people-pleasing in order to do the hard work of finding my own joy in what I was doing. Breaking open the block of chalk must have been a symbol of me actually attempting to take climbing seriously, and I wasn’t ready for that, so I quit instead. I guess you could say I “chalk-blocked” myself… you know. Like cock-block. Only with chalk instead of–oh whatever, you get it. I’m wondering though, is there anywhere in my life that I’m doing that same thing right now? Am I currently chalk-blocking my ability to find personal joy, success, and maturity? Am I about to give up on anything because my chief motive is to impress people?


~ by russell jander on January 6, 2012.

2 Responses to “Chalk Block”

  1. […] this smell. My hands sweat when I smell it. If you’ve been following this blog you know that I have very sweaty hands in general, but when I smell this empty bottle they sweat a lot more, and I think it’s tied to the […]

  2. Ha ha ha, this cracks me up. Good on you for getting rid of stuff! It is such a freeing feeling. Today I am getting rid of some wine glasses that have never been used and probably will never get used. I look forward to reading more of your purging of trinkets.

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