It started, as often things do, with a simple question of how far could one go.
In the early days, when all had become well-known, wanderings amongst the hills paid solemn tribute to wild places which were still shrouded by their wonderment.
Soon you realised that it was the rock which held sway and continued to draw you back.
You found an arena to test your strength and will and this act resonated across the empty voids growing inside.
Another weekend away, another evening at the wall, but it was never enough.
Dreams became filled with visions of routes, while your waking thoughts fixated upon practicing the intricacies of the crux holds, examining the possibilities in your mind, shifting each of your weighted fingers in turn so that every one made best use of the tiny holds.
This new labour, brought forth to weaken the emptiness, was sinisterly invoking a demon from the past.
It awakened an old hunger, a desire that could never be satisfied.
Secretly it sized up your limits and would never take less than what it imagined possible.
It became a want. It drove you.
In an effort to satiate these expectations, you pushed yourself as hard as you could.
But as soon as progress was attained, injury tore you back.
The body still weak had not yet caught up with the will.
Anger grew to bitterness over losing hard gained strength.
Even these emotions could not be maintained and you grew philosophical; maybe I was trying too hard, was I ever good, and was I even right to try?
You questioned your motivations. You questioned your goals.
When all seemed nearly lost, that demon showed its face and you realised it was down to self-belief.
Could it be any crueler?
Stoically you looked back.
Of all the things that weren’t, can’t be and should never stop what will be.
So you carried on.
Harder than last time.
Your hands became shaped like claws and you never have more than 7 toenails at any given point.
People ascribe your achievements to your low body weight, small hands, or anything else they can think of to set you apart – there must be an explanation.
But secretly they know and silently back away.
That nagging feeling which tells you that you can do better; the results of years of wanting, yet never having, play havoc with your mind.
You have moments of success, but you’re not satisfied.
It’s never enough.
If you climbed it, how hard can it be?
It doesn’t bring happiness, joy or even sadness.
It just leaves you wanting more… one more problem, one grade higher.
These elusive victories are never certain and therefore not enough.
You choose to fight again finding solace when focused at your limit, putting everything you have into it and often failing.
Blood wells up under your skin tattooing an exact replica of the crux holds on your fingertips.
Do you actually have any business trying this hard?
But still, you persist. Something is driving you.
Something vital is borne from this strife.
There is nothing else, but the soreness in your fingers, a gasp of breath and the will to stay on the rock.
The demons are momentarily silent.
You battle with belief and risk failure or even success.
You are apart. You are obsessed.
You climb, because that’s all that you know anymore, but is this reason enough?
The answer to that question, like most good ones, is never known.