Thursday, 5 December 2013


At the risk of sounding soft, being able to walk- albeit slowly and stiffly- has given me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. So I'm going to indulge in some pondering this post...

Breaking my leg like that, or even 'snapping it' as a friend so succinctly put it the other day, hasn't been the best thing I've ever done. Not even close.

Fingerboarding is certainly making me strong. My legs are thinner, probably lighter. A climber’s dream! Is that preferable to getting stronger using a more varied training schedule and having slightly stronger legs? No. I’ve missed climbing so much it hurts. Breaking my leg has meant that I only see close friends, I’ve spent a lot of the last three months in pain, I’ve been bored out of my mind, and I’ve worried about the course.

But it’s also making me appreciate things as they come back. It’s made me stop and think. My life up until September that summer had consisted of working six days a week, doing a summer placement at a school and filling the gaps with work at the Depot. Not a single waking minute wasn’t filled either with work, climbing or socialising. And there weren’t that many sleeping ones. I loved it- I’ve always been my happiest with a million fun things to engage my short attention span.

As a result, I was gutted when I suddenly had to spend so many hours doing either Physics or very little. And even when things improved, doing Physics, Fingerboarding or very little. I practically climbed the walls with frustration: doing a degree and Fingerboarding wasn’t enough, I wanted to do Everything.

I never used to walk around Leeds- too slow. I’d cycle instead. If I went for a walk anywhere but the countryside, I’d walk as fast as possible so as to get to where I was going. Even in the countryside, I don’t walk that slowly- I want get somewhere, make progress. I’ve never been interested in slowing down. Why, when I could see more if I walked faster?

But in the last couple of days, I’ve done a little walking. I walked to the train station from my house in Leeds. And I walked around a park in Sheffield yesterday. I walked for over an hour, probably less than a mile. And it was idyllic. And I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I ‘saw everything properly’- but I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relaxed. It didn’t matter where I was going, or what I accomplished. I just wanted to be outside in the sun.

I’ve never been accused of laziness, never been guilty of procrastination on any real scale. I know what I want in life, and I’m excited to go get it. But I hope that the way I’ve learned to accept that things are slower and milestones are re-defined stays with me. I can’t honestly say I always enjoy climbing when I’m fit. I often feel cross I’m not as good as the people I climb with. Or didn’t do as well as last time. Or sufficiently better. Yet at the moment, climbing on a top rope is pure joy. I just want to be there, and I’m not worried about the achievements. And broken leg and numerical grades aside, I’m probably climbing as well as I’ve ever climbed before. It might not look like it. It might look like my technique is terrible and I’m using my arms too much. But though climbing with a boot, or a very weak ankle is inelegant- footwork is no less intricate.

Perhaps for the first year since I was much younger, I’m looking forward to a Christmas week without climbing. I won’t be champing at the bit to get to a climbing wall on Boxing Day. I’ll be enjoying catching up with my parents and sisters, while physics text books look enviously on from the side lines. And really, I can thank a broken leg for a slightly more relaxed perspective.

When I’m fully recovered, I’ll go back to climbing all the time. And working a lot of the time. And I’ll love it. But I’ll try not to forget that slowing down isn’t always the wrong thing to do. Because life’s too short to do nothing- but it’s also too short to do everything.

And it’s only a broken leg, innit?

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