Another night of sub-par sleep and I feel like I’m waking up in a haze. I usually awake deep in the night. Usually between 3-5am. Sometimes I go back to sleep and sometimes I don’t, but I’m always guaranteed at least an hour or so of restless fidgeting and a mind that sees useless information passing through it almost like a conduit. And I can’t slow it down. At this point, two years into the insomnia, it’s difficult to get any perspective on it. I've tried so many things. No alcohol. No caffeine. Lots of exercise. No exercise. No carbs. Meditation. No screen time before bed. Stretching before bed. None of it works. I used to think a really long and exhausting day climbing would put me out like a baby but the opposite has held true. I sleep worse after a long day of climbing and wake up feeling destroyed from the previous day's effort. Isn't adulthood the best?
Here's a happy story. This morning I woke up at 5am. I tossed for a good while before finally falling into a hazy dream. I dreamed I was standing in the middle of a five-lane interstate with 20 foot high walls on either side. At first I thought I’d find a way off the road. I quickly searched and scanned for an exit point. Feeling the walls for a weakness I could exploit and use to climb out. But, it quickly occurred to me that I was in trouble. Cars were bearing down on me and driving fast. I woke up just before their arrival. It was only 7:30am. I couldn’t get back to sleep. Feel free to use that if you're writing a screenplay just try to get my name in the credits somewhere. I'm used to getting paid that way for my music.
Sigh. I’m almost 50, and I am starting to feel like it too. Maybe I feel older? How would I know? But lately I've been so wrecked. My difficulty sleeping has undoubtedly contributed to my recent three month onslaught of health problems. The first bout of flu in January was the sickest I have ever been in my life. Then I caught a four-day cold in February only to follow that up with another bout of flu in March. This one less severe but its effects have been annoyingly long lasting. It's been as royal a beat down as I've ever experienced. Kinda gives you pause to look around and wonder. "What the fuck is happening?"
I think in the past I would be feeling really sorry for myself. Call it the GlumChums. (™) I would likely be in a foul and selfish mood for long periods. But, I’m not anymore. I promise. I’ve been actively trying to maintain a more intentionally positive outlook. And I find it works. If I go to bed pissed off and angry that I might wake up, I’ve learned I probably will. I’ve come to accept this problem and hopefully there is a manageable solution. The point of this post is not to gain sympathy or look for suggestions to help my insomnia. It's to write about it so I don’t bottle it up and become pissed off. Maybe by writing, I’ll gain some insight. I’m no self-help advisor, but maybe it will connect with someone who can relate. Maybe? Just don't cross me if I look sleepy. I'll cut you.
2019 so far has kind of sucked. Actually it has mostly sucked. I was sick for most of January. I carried mild flu symptoms for a week, then I got the flu and it was the sickest I've ever been in my whole life. Without overstating it, the fever, aches, chills and fatigue were crushing. It took another week to recover. When it was over I felt lucky to have avoided going to the hospital such was its severity.
February was going along OK, but I picked up a cold seemingly out of nowhere. It wasn't too bad compared to the flu I had just been through and only lasted about four days. I was still able to function despite the indignity.
But March came along and about a week into it I started to feel weird again. Mild aches and fatigue for a couple of days gave way to nearly full-blown flu symptoms again. By the fourth day my throat was achingly sore and I was smacked down with the flu. AGAIN! Now after another three days of being stuck in bed recovering from the intense fatigue, I'm up and doing house chores again and steadily coughing up junk from the depths of my lungs.
As the smoke clears from this three month onslaught of ill health, I'm left wondering what the fuck just happened. Is this gonna happen again? What the hell is wrong with me? Of course, I have no answers to these questions. It could very well happen again. What this has done, besides prompt a closer look at my health habits, is motivate me to get the hell on with any projects and ideas I've been kicking around.
And one of those projects is that I'd like to write more. Specifically, I'd like to write more about climbing. It should be no surprise that I want to climb more. That I want to climb well, and I want to climb as hard as I can. But, I'd like to turn some of that drive into self expression. And possibly create some content to help out others.
Climbing has become ridiculously popular. And with films like Free Solo and Dawn Wall breaking through to the masses, it's likely only going to grow bigger and bigger. I've learned that I have a strong desire to teach and mentor climbers. I go to the climbing gym and I see some really green climbers, and I worry about how some of these folks are going to get along when they start going outside. In my 30 years of climbing I've seen some truly fucked up (but entirely avoidable) shit. I find myself compelled to try and contribute something helpful.
For example. Many years ago I was climbing at Foster Falls and saw a woman toproping a steep face route. She was cleaning quickdraws as she went. All was going fine until she got to the anchor where she proceeded to clean both draws off the anchor as well. I will spare you the details but fortunately that story had a happy ending. But I've seen plenty of similar scenarios that didn't have happy endings. As has been well documented at this point, I nearly died when two bolts broke while sport climbing. Climbing is dangerous. It seems mentorship is either dead or at least sorely lacking in today's climbing scene.
I'm hoping to start creating content along those lines as well as documenting my own goals and adventures. And I'm hoping to do it over a variety of platforms. Blogs, Vlogs, IG posts and whatever else. The cool thing is that I don't have any kind of a destination point for any of this and see it as kind of never ending in a way. At least until I can no longer get out there and climb. And I plan to keep that going as long as I can.
My illnesses this year have been rugged, but as is often the case, adversity provides us some clarity. And real serious beat downs can motivate you to get on with it. Our time here is limited and I'm not dead yet. I'm looking forward to getting into this next stage of life and creativity.