More than once last year, I chided myself for being more observer than participant when it comes to thrill-seeking activities.
I attributed it to my cautious nature and lack of attraction to things involving potential physical injury. After all these years without a concussion or broken bone, why tempt fate?
Well, leave it to my wife to take matters into her own hands. On my birthday late last year, she presented me with a gift certificate to the Portland Rock Gym, an indoor climbing facility about a mile from our home.
Last weekend, I had an opening in my schedule and so I signed up for the introductory class. Showed up in shorts and a long-sleeved T-shirt, with a good attitude and a healthy curiosity about how it would go.
In a word: Meh.
I was in a class of six beginners, three men and three women, and of course I was the oldest one. That wasn’t an issue.
The instructor was a young dude who was knowledgeable, agile and patient – and who could have passed as a “Portlandia” extra. Guy with a wool hat pulled down to his eyebrows. Big, bushy beard. Took swigs from a large energy drink (Rockstar brand, of course) and made liberal use of the words “cool” and “dude.” Again, not an issue.
At least half of the 3-hour class was devoted to learning how to put on the gear and tie knots; another hour or so was spent actually climbing. When we were done, I have to say I wasn’t “feeling it.”
I had hoped this might be a thing that excited and energized me, making me eager to return and get back up on that wall. But, no. I left with a blister on my right heel (the front desk people said climbing shoes should be snug) and a little bit of missing skin on my right hand (mild case of rope burn while belaying).
More important, I left with a sense that: 1) If knot-tying is the key to even getting started, that’s not my forte. 2) If climbing 60 feet up and getting a foothold on a faux rock 2 inches wide and 4 inches long is supposed to bring a sense of stability, well, let’s just say I’d like a little more surface than that. I’m not as nimble as I used to be.
Even if I were hooked, I know this new sport would require spending money to buy the gear and shoes and an ongoing membership to use the facility. Not sure I want to make room in my budget for that.
For much of the weekend, I second-guessed myself. Was I being a wimp? (Hold your comments, folks.) Was there something about me – not the activity – that was the issue? Should I go back and give it another try?
Thankfully, Lori let me off the hook. If it isn’t your thing, don’t worry about it, she said. At least you tried it.
Yes, that’s true and I thanked her for it. And now, tomorrow night, it’s back to cornhole – the beanbag toss game you can play between sips of beer. Bring it on.