A plateau high up on the south face of a mountain, looking to Spain across a flat valley, smoke from the towns and villages, make a disc of yellowish haze. The silence is strong, wood against wood in the trees and beak against wood from the birds. Occasional and sporadic gusts of wind rattle the dry leaves left on the branches, the snow removes all other sound, and my presence is neglible as is my sense of any self.
I drove across the mountains from a grey, damp and cold, through the tunnel into bright sunlight and warmer temperatures. The journey is only short but puts a distance to the struggle and darkness that sometimes descends.
My father is ill, and no matter how much light fills the landscape, the darkness can only ever fade.
Five weeks in; tested out on my power endurance project on my board, made it a few moves past my previous best efforts. So I guess it works. I can now do many more press ups, a few more pull ups, but I have still haven’t given up drinking too much wine. Maybe that’s the next step.
In the second week of this programme and each session has involved dealing with a sensation that can only be described as mild nausea. I remember this feeling, years ago when I ‘trained’, now its clear that for years I have only been putting effort into the things that I enjoyed. For example, hanging off and moving on small holds I like, thus I do lots of it and think I’m training. This last couple of weeks I have been doing amongst other awful exercises; ‘planks’, they are horrible, what is their to enjoy from passing from fatigue to feeling sick, heart pounding, red in the face and vibrating from head to toe, basically nothing.
I’ve been lying…’I train’, that’s what I say to myself. Maybe many years ago I did actually train, I had notebooks, stopwatches, targets and plans. Over time things changed, I took the words in a couple of articles in an old ‘On The Edge’ magazine too seriously, Moffat said all you had to do…I’m not sure of the exact words but something like ‘get down low under an overhang and pull hard’. Moon said stop ‘training strong’. So right now, the situation is I can pull quite hard on small holds on steep ground, as long as I don’t need to do more than five moves., but I don’t train. This in itself would be fine if one of my projects wasn’t more like 18 moves long, 12 hard moves at least. predictably no matter how strong or motivated I’m feeling I always fall more or less at the same point, about 8 moves in.
So I’m facing up to the fact that I need to train, specifically power endurance. As I’ve said my forte is for short and sharp, wandering into la cabane (shed) and coming out an hour later having done no more than five moves in a row won’t cut it, nor will half hearted stabs at finger board routines.
The problem is I find the amount of info online so big it overwhelms me, I know I need to do core work, conditioning, bla bla, It’s so boring and seems so complicated as these days people are making money out of this and need to seem ‘expert’. Yet the training protocols vary massively, I think in reality its pretty much guesswork still. So I’m using a generic workout plan, the beauty being that it comes through each week via a website/email and I’m confronted by three workouts a week to follow. I know that I will benefit from it, simply because its making me doing everything that I would normally avoid, namely longer sessions with volume and many horrible exercises for my core, I believe I will also need to start running! I’m writing this down in the belief, that I hope holds true, namely that once something is named and written it becomes more likely it will happen. I’m also lucky, I have a board (pictured below) and finger boards at home and a decent(ish) wall, with 50 or so set problems, 20 mins drive away. I have free time and a goal that will come into condition in a couple of months or so. I also have many, many other projects and interests in my life, honestly!
It’s difficult to describe the last few months, dislocation from previous life, removal of old context go some way to explaining my current state of mind and life. A sense of content adriftness, an alienation that is both sweet and consuming. The projects of house renovation, something I never took to seriously, stutter on, bit by bit and love has entered my life, the house is now a home.
I think about art and creativity, but find little time or inclination. I meditated on this subject as I sharpened an axe. Squat on the floor, semi dark, an incantation of sound and material, I thought of performance, I thought of ritual and I thought of all the contrived actions of that world. Today my performance is real, as the action and ritual slowly possess me. My boredom threshold is extending, as I sharpened the axe, I found myself enjoying the rhythm of steel on stone, I wasn’t impatient, I kept at it…durational.
John Berger died this week. I think of him as I walk in our wood. I look at the woodpiles I have made, the collections of twigs, the lean-to of larger branches, the cut grass, and the embers of a fire.
I stand and stare, absently, often, then I begin work again.