On Something and Nothing

Posted on: July 1, 2008

Wil Treasure

A clap of thunder, Lightning skies, We sit and wait for Sun to rise, Beneath the moonlit mountainsides, And breathe

I chance a look at my second, the movement in this position is almost enough to dislodge me from my perch. My ropes play carelessly in the breeze, carving their gentle path downwards, and slightly rightwards to her stance. Each piece of metalwork winks at me in turn, lending mental strength, while at the same time affording me an uneasy opportunity to estimate their distances, and relative worth. They glint in their tiny abodes, safe in the knowledge that they have found their vocation - I don’t share their confidence.

From this position I can only contemplate. I console myself with the three square inches of rock that balance me between failure and the sweet possibility of success. I know that the stalemate can’t last forever, yet I’m also aware that I can see no prospect of victory from here. I spy my next target, distant and small, yet welcomingly positive. I picture myself arranging fingers on it, anchoring myself, but I see no path that can lead me there. From my small foot ledge the only control I have seems to be whether I am defeated in mind, or body.

Can’t wait forever; Calves cramping, cold and surprised. I arrange my fingers on crystals, each finger crucial, like the keys of a piano chord; but I’m no Dawes, no concert pianist. The thought of his electric route disrupts me, and I’m back, not wanting to risk a faulty connection. Dawes was dancing on the tracks of the underground, but I am playing with toy trains. Any spark from these will shock me, but ultimately I am safe.

It is this thought that I replay in my mind at I commit; distracted from fear. Fingers fumble crystal smears, sweating tips and sliding feet I’m on and up. My last runner smiles, fifteen moves lower. Feet pressed hard my calves begin to shake like a prayer flag in the wind, I snatch at an edge, tantalisingly close, but I’m off. Swooping, sliding and grazing and fumbling, my world tumbles around me and then halts abruptly. Damage is superficial, and I wait awhile to watch the world.

Back at my three square inch home, calves cramping again, it occurs to me how trivial all of this is. How trivial everything is. That I cannot explain the desire for this, and that while I am here I wish I wasn’t, and when I’m not I wish I was. Maybe this is all there is? Contrast: Something and nothing, identity and difference, a measure of extremes.

The line between this world and, and what? Without knowing the line becomes both exhilarating and terrifying. Like the red button you mustn’t press - yet you can’t resist. We know no good can come of it, but still we persist.

Self reliance and camaraderie: Single minded, yet never alone. We are seeking solitude, yet inviting others to join us. We want to be the author of our own destiny, but we take a friend for proof reading.

The effort of it; mentally and physically exhausting! We strive to see how far we can push those boundaries, and at the same time we try to ignore them to achieve this. Muscles crying out, minds inhibited, and then the release; success or failure the release is easy. The sum total of our efforts laughed upon in a few brief seconds. All of the wasted energy! But the release is sweet. For three glorious seconds I am free, and fate is my author. In these moments I seek my place, my purpose, my ego. I do not wish to leave an indelible mark on the world, but rather for it to mark me.

Everything is transient with flux of time. We concern ourselves with our impact, with collapsing peaks and altered routes, yet it is this very same process which gives those peaks their identity in the first place. We seek adventure, and then thwart our own search by trying to make that adventure convenient, and accessible. We argue over the difficulty of a line, when we should be arguing over the experience it affords, or maybe just accepting.

As those routes are defined by their relationship with others, so are we. Our ultimate impact in the world may be minimal, but its impact on us is profound. The sum total of the energy in the universe is zero, no energy is ever wasted. Success or failure is not what counts, it’s the experience afforded.

Meaning is not what you make it; it’s what it makes you.