Friday 15 April 2011

The Air is Fresher Outside of the Box

I was just talking to Pete online and I came up with that saying.

I guess you can take it to mean what you will,
but from my point of view it comes from living slightly outside the social norms.

And I dont mean that in a crazy person living in a cave sort of way,
but moreover in an avoiding peer pressure or conforming sense.
And I think that a lot of this attitude stems from my climbing habit.

The climbing scene has always been outside the box, in the old days the forefathers of the sport must have been slightly deranged to tie a hemp rope round their waist and set off up a rockface with nothing but their hands, a few chunks of metal and hobnail boots to protect them from a potentially life threatening fall.
And although climbing in the modern era prides itself on being a great deal safer than in the past, the truth is we still have nutjobs at the forefront of the sport who are placing their lives at risk on a daily basis to enjoy themselves (although that is a point for another day).

So its seems that the very act of going climbing will put you outside the perceived social norm, even if you only go a couple of times and then give it up. By putting yourself out there as a person who is willing to push the boundaries of what is perhaps sensible for survival (whether or not this is the case) you are taking part in something that many civilians just wont understand.

Back at school, if I wanted to fit in or impress my mates I should have taken up football or rugby - despite the fact that I was never all that good at them. But instead I took up climbing, Eton fives, badminton and kayaking and dedicated myself to them during my free time.
I think there must have been few pupils at the school who actually participated in more sport than myself, but because they were not mainstream activities they lacked the recognition that was given to the pastimes with greater participation.

I'm sure a lot of people know I climb, but I know that most of them have no idea at all how good or bad I am at it. If I come home and speak to them, the best I can do is try to show them what I did and that I have had a great time doing it - and this is all I can really hope for without getting them to take part. I can but hope that through my stories I may convince someone else to step outside the box and get bitten by the same climbing bug that I did, but it seems that only a select few will ever go beyond dabbling.

I think it would be nice if I could carry this same attitude over into other aspects of my life, for example:
I dont understand why I should want to get drunk and go out - beyond satisfying other peoples desires for me to conform.
The negative effects of a night out are stunningly apparent the next morning - tiredness, headache, sickness, lightness of wallet etc. etc.
and I know a few people who feel the same way.
I frequently hear my housemates bemoaning the fact that they have to go out (despite their own feelings) because they have been cajoled into thinking that it is what they should be doing.

In a parallel with climbing; I can understand that many civilians would never understand why I would want to pull so hard on a hold that I tear a flap of skin from my hand, and why in hell's name that should remotely please me. But the difference from my viewpoint is that I don't go out of my way to badger them to do something they have little interest in.
I would also point out that I rarely hear of people who are cajoled onto climbing trips that they don't want to take part in...

And it really goes for everything.
I know I am guilty of several charges.
For example: while I would shun Jack Wills in normal society, I am prepared to pay a small premium within the climbing world to enjoy a similar experience with Prana clothing (though I do restrict this to two pairs of shorts - one of which has a horrible design flaw)

I'm not saying conformity is bad - heck, I have an iPhone along with half the population of the UK!
But conformity that stops you doing what you really want to do is simply awful.

I guess what I am trying to say is that even if you just open the window of the box and dangle your legs outside, you are a lot closer to the fresh air than those who are stuck in the corner.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. Have fun in Font mate - Climb Big Jim for me.