Breathing is the most natural thing we do. Breathing is what keeps us alive. It is when I began to climb that I truly learned what it meant to breathe.
The breath comes naturally. We don’t have to think about it. We don’t have to think about it but amazing things happen when we do.
200 feet off the ground, tied to a rope, protected by metal, fabric, a trusted friend, and your ability to keep your wits about you. You are tired, exhausted really, your fingers hurt, your toes are cramping, your calves are strained, your forearms are burning, fear is coming on fast and now your legs begin to shake uncontrollably. Stop. Breathe. Focus. Breathe. Relax. Breathe.
Each breath fills your starving blood with much needed oxygen and the shakes lessen. Each breath fills your waning spirit with confidence and reminds you that you’ve done this before, you can do it again, and if you can’t your catch awaits you.
Another screaming match. Another slammed door. More angry, furious words and tears of utter frustration. You want to punch a wall. You want to scream and kick. You want to rip someone’s freaking head off. Stop. Breathe. Focus. Breathe. Relax. Breathe.
Life could not teach me this.
But climbing could.
Life continues to show me how to breathe on purpose.
Roughly pronounced ah-nah-lee is the Irish Gaelic command “breathe.”