Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Joy in Failure

Everyone enjoys success - the feeling of accomplishment, pride, adoration from others, praise. What's not to like about success? Whether it's onsighting a hard route or acing a final in college, we can all relate to the pride and joy that comes with success.

The other day while I was trying my "project" Green Wall Center (V6), by far the hardest thing I've put time into,  I realized that I didn't like bouldering because of failure. One day, I get on Green Wall and feel so good - even reach a new high point. And another day, I can't even get off the ground. I want to give up, to quit, move on to something else to feel success.
Unknown climber on Green Wall Center. Such an aesthetic climb!

I'm tormenting myself inside and negative comments fill my mind.

Why can't I do something that felt so good just days before?

What's going on with me?

I left the bouldering field, broken and discouraged.

I'm never going back to Green Wall. 

As a trad climber, I give everything to onsight climbing. In order to do a long route, it's important to feel comfortable at that grade so you don't get be-nighted (having to climb through the dark).  I give one try-hard attempt to most routes for the onsight and I often never go back to the route. Having had Yosemite as my crag the past two years, I have repeated routes, but rarely more than 3-4 times.

When you're bouldering, you try and try ....and try again. I've tried Green Wall around 25 times, still with no success. So. Much. Failure. 

What I'm starting to learn is to find joy in failure because let's face it, we all fail as much as we succeed and if we're not failing, we're not trying hard enough. And if we're not trying hard enough, we're not reaching out maximum potential. So I can either embrace failure or never push myself and with four more months of bouldering ahead of me, I need to deal with failure.

Failure is good for the character. It keeps me grounded and humble. Just when I think I'm starting to figure things out, I get smacked down. And when you finally reach that goal, send the problem, get into graduate school, it means so much more because you took the time and gave the effort and attention it required to achieve that goal.

I guess I am starting to view failure as a means to success. I just like climbing, the movement and the technique, the attention it requires.  Sending a problem/route is definitely important, but not the means to success. Success should be derived by the path taken and the effort given. Success is trying really hard. Success is consciously working on something you're bad at. Success is having fun.

Ryan on Rubber Tester (v0). Holdless climbing, PSYCHED.

So the next time I get frustrated with a climb, I just gotta remember that the journey is what really matters. Those brief moments of clarity in the mountains. The countless hours of suffering and pushing past your comfort zone. This is how we grow. This is my success.
Easy living in the Buttermilk Country
You might have already come to this realization, cheers to you! Cheers to trying hard! Cheers to failing and having a damn good time! Because at the end of the day, having a good time is what makes us happy, and a happy person gives off good vibes and good vibes are infectious. 

And remember,

"The best climber is the one that's having the most fun." - The Late and great Alex Lowe