Wednesday, 27 February 2008


I’ve been so down lately that only now that things are slightly picking up can I see just how disheartened I have become.

When I first read The Old Man in the Sea, none of it made sense to me. I’ve never been good with letting go and therefore the inherent meaning of the story just seemed bizarre.

For those who never read it, the general gist is something like this… an old man, who makes his living from fishing in the Gulf Stream off the shores of Cuba, finds that his fish stocks are drying up. It becomes more and more imperative for him to get a big catch as monetary pressures mount. He is convinced, driven by blind faith in his fishing instinct, that he can turn things around and land the biggest fish known to man. He does indeed catch a huge marlin, but the battle takes everything out of him and leaves him practically broken. On account of the strife, his small skiff, which was built for coastal waters, drifted out into the open ocean. As he struggles against the waves to try to make his way back to shore, various carnivorous fish eat away at the enormous fish that he caught. The fisherman is so weakened by events that he cannot pull the fish on board and by the time he reaches shallow water only bones and gristle remain. His dream has become a gruesome banner, warning against trying to make the impossible real.

The fisherman believed so strongly in his ability to win, that he became blind to the notion of failure; even when it was more than evident to the reader. He wanted something, and wasn’t about to give up. He couldn’t let go.

Want is inherently risky and leaves you open to all sorts of problems, but equally, what are we if we don’t want anything? Why does anyone endeavour to improve their lot? It is hard work and often goes wrong. Isn’t it easier to just bimble along with our heads down? Of course it is, but it’s not what makes me happy. Since I’ve been depressed, I’ve not aspired to anything. I’ve just wanted to give up – what’s the point if for every step that you take forward, you end up two behind? Even hope was too painful.

Surely this is not the state to be in either? I feel that I often define myself by what I want – what drives me. I always want something else, something more. Where would civilization be if we never sought for things to be different? I suspect we would have all died of a horrid disease a long time ago. I guess there does however come a point when this motivation can get the better of you. Obviously some things aren’t meant to be.

The trick is in choosing what to want. However want comes from belief and belief is rarely based on rationality.

I’m starting to think that want is good, but not always. Maybe I should also consider what I have a bit more.

I never thought it was going to be an easy life...


Anonymous said...

Hey Jenn. I am often saddened to read the words you write on UKC and on here. You are always so passionate and focussed (which I completely admire) and yet... particularly hard on yourself at the same time. Being hard on yourself can be a good thing but it can be very detrimental (which I think may be effecting you). You have to learn to switch off (which I have thankfully learn't) and re-focus your thoughts and energies towards your accomplishments, especially on a daily basis (after each session I list all the positive things I have achieved that day or night).
Climbing is hard enough without you making it more difficult for yourself...and I would rather be physically incapable of doing a certain move or problem than mentally incapable beacuse it is easier to overcome physical barriers...mental barriers have the ability to destroy ones spirit and make you give up before even starting.
I know you know all of this already...but it is nice to hear from someone else (I think :0) ).
Take care of yourself, keep positive and you will be back, stronger than ever and in no time at all!
It's better to try and fail than fail to try.

Chris (aka Sircumfrins) ;0)

Jenn said...

Hi Chris,
Thanks for your comments.
Since I’ve not been able to climb, I’ve felt like I had my arm cut off, literally and figuratively :-) I’ve not really known what to do with myself. It’s difficult when something is such a big part of your life. Losing it made me feel like I lost a large part of myself. Hopefully I’ll be able to go back to climbing soon as the pain is finally subsiding a bit.
Yes, you are right; I am often way too hard on myself. I do need to chill out more with climbing. It’s just difficult, because that’s how I have always been. I will try to take on board your comments as best as I can though as I think it would ultimately make me much happier.

Cheers, Jenn