It was exhausted in thinking about who we were and what we did. It was used up by the insatiable energy of squabbling and shitting on each other. It was suffocated by bans. It was sideswiped by change. It was burnt in the fires.
I saw a photo the other day and it had a question with it; the fires, have they sucked the psych out of climbing for anyone else because they have done for me, it asked. There were a few responses, not too many, but none of them pushing back against the malaise or trying to cast sunshine upon the gloom. Where did the psych go?
Unfurling farther and farther down through cats and Moonboards and ads and whatever else I can’t remember, the question became more than just a selfish lament. It did not strike me that it was just an ill-timed whinge about disruption to one’s life caused by the fires that scorched and denuded the Mountains, Canberra, the coast. It was looking far more broadly. I read it as a cry out at the obscenity of climbing – of doing anything – in such a time as this, the world is aflame and the wicked cretins who run the joint are only turning up the temperature.
It was not a great year, the one just gone, and this one doesn’t feel any better. The bans bite and the numbers of people heading into the blocs dwindle. Smoke chokes the air and the people stay shut away and numbed. The state of affairs drags heavily upon the shoulders of the people. A mass weariness on all but the deniers and the shills and the shitstains.
And the psych has gone.
This is doubly powerful and disorienting as the one thing to which we should turn to maintain our equilibrium, rock climbing amidst the tree canopy and the bird call, is the one thing that is falling away.
Doubly weird as it is happening as gyms open at an exponential rate. There is more skin being lost on plastic holds than there is faith being lost in politicians. There are millions of gyms in Australia right now, all clamouring for their piece of the real estate. And the Olympics is about to happen (or not), all the rings and the glory and the pride, all of it lifting climbing up higher and shinier.
Climbing is everywhere but right now, today, it feels like it is nowhere.
And then fucking mud is falling from the skies, then ice falls like bombs, animals are annihilated by the millions, rivers are choked or dry. The leadership we get is corruption, greed, ignorance and malevolence, this is the political class we deserve. Not long now till it’ll be billy clubs and mace to stifle civil disobedience, because dissent will come and the state will not suffer it. But we are the ones that voted for this. It is all our fault.
Then a virus blights us. Perhaps the worst of all. Terrifying. Gutting society. Stopping everything. What will be left on the other side? What will the next generation – Builders2.0 – put together?
Where has climbing as a sanctuary gone?
It takes a lot of energy to look hard into the mirror. It takes a lot of energy to fight. It takes a lot of energy to wade through chundered threads of comments spilling yet more comments. It takes a lot of energy to figure out where you can go, where to go. It takes a lot of energy to wrestle with your identity. It takes a lot of energy not to shake with rage at the evil arsehats who are running the joint. It takes a lot of energy to stare into the climate abyss. Fire burns all the oxygen in the air.