Yosemite Valley holds a great power. Our initial idea for the trip was to discover the climbers who flock from around the world to live in a vertical reality on the soaring granite walls.
Whilst sharing great conversation, meals and experiences with those who we met it became apparent that the Valley (as it is known) is much more than an adventure playground for climbers. The concepts of scale, time and the act of living become apparent in their similarities and differences compared to the world and our daily lives.
Whether it is climbing as a physical act itself or the simple and profound concept of those who do what they love and truly live is difficult to separate. To experience the Yosemite Valley, walking, climbing and just being in this nature changes the perspective of the earth and the wonderful simplicity that is required to be fulfilled.
Quotes taken from ‘Spirit of the Rock’ by Ron Kauk.
1. NATURE PROVIDES
“Yosemite does take care of me, just like the earth takes care of all people.”
Yosemite gave me a lesson that nature is essential to us. We’re born to be outside. We’re born to move through its fields, its trees, its water, its rocks. Our energy levels increase as we release the confines of the mind and move with the flow of nature. Our health increases as we breathe in the scents of meadows in bloom, trees in the Fall and the moving of the earth through nature. Our bodies return to their natural balance of being fit and strong, in perfect harmony of being able to do what is asked of it in any number of movements, rather than a specialist in one. Nature provides.
2. WE ARE ALL ONE
“It is always interesting to continue to evolve within myself, check my ego, and let go of any kind of competitiveness or jealousy – the kind of stuff that might get in my way.”
Competition promotes separation, whereas at the ultimate level of mastery, there is no competition. Laird Hamilton comments that competition stifles evolution. It makes us hold on to our ideas, rather than share. Our ideas will help elevate the next person, which in turn opens up new ideas that elevate us. We grow together when we’re not in competition, yet once we’ve beaten our fellow humans the next big thing to compete with is nature. We try to compete with a competitor that can never be beaten, and isn’t this why our great extreme sports men and women ultimately seem to die? If we appreciate nature and the universe do we, or would we, evolve by not seeing the world as a series of challenges to master, but rather a series of mysteries to embrace and ride alongside? If we embrace it and enjoy it, we can receive its wisdom.
3. BE FREE
“Freedom has so much to do with understanding our potential. Finding the simplicity to move in our own rhythm, to feel the harmony of mind and body. Completely committed to the excitement and spirit of adventure to just do your best. Let the rest come to you.”
Yosemite taught me to be free. Being stuck in a thought, challenge or movement, being static and rigid, none of these are our natural state. Humans are born to move. Be free in our movements and in our thinking. Have plans and at the same time be flexible enough to adapt as the conditions around us change.
4. TRUST THE PROCESS
“Learning to accept the process was key. Everyday there I was learning more. But at the time I didn’t really know that no matter what, it’s always an opportunity to grow. The beauty of this special lesson was learning to to let go, freeing my mind and simply allowing my heart to find the love for the move and lead me to the core of my own truth…I love to climb.”
It’s a big leap of faith, perhaps the biggest one we will ever be required to take, to give our all to the hands of time in the possibility of achieving an unknown feat. Darwin found himself on a ship working on a theory that would only make sense after nine years of travel and that would revolutionise the world. Einstein reached and published his theory of evolution after 10 years of working as a desk clerk. Proust’s epic novel masterpiece was written and finished literally as the doors of death closed in around him. Have a goal, trust the process.
5. IT TAKES TIME
“Just to even touch these rocks sometimes is an amazing experience to recognise how many thousands, even millions, of years it took to shape them. And as a climber you see a puzzle of holds.”
The rhythm of Yosemite is so slow that it’s essential to stop. Just like the river in Siddhartha, Herman Hesse’s tale of a wanderer seeking. As he stops at the river to listen, all answers are revealed to him. To while away a day in El Cap Meadow squinting and trying to watch the climbers is not a day wasted. It takes time, and that is one Yosemite’s key lessons. Nothing of worth can be rushed. It takes time.