This is an experience that ensued after spending 10 hours on a rock wall in Squamish. It was an introspective moment that eventually lead me to creating this service.
Water smashed over the rocks, colliding with itself, bounding down the valley towards the town of Squamish. Luke and I sat on a boulder beside the river in the darkness, looking up at unimpeded starlight. My pack was still on, heavy with the tools of the day’s adventure. The bag kept me upright as the 10 hour mission, and the joint we passed, threatened to knock me over.
Rappelling in the dark without a headlamp, miscalculating distances, and having to use unpracticed, improvised rope skills had rattled me. I was alone in a crack on the mountain - Luke 35 meters above me, the next rappel station 5 meters below me. Hungry and tired, I triple checked the system that would end our lives if not done correctly. Now, beside the river, I felt at peace.
The presence of water soothed me as it always does. It helped me forgive myself for the day's mistakes, ones that the mountain could have punished us for. I opened myself to the energy of the place, the energy of the other beside me. We were thrashed, ready for food and sleep. I could feel the shared desire to leave. Before we shifted from our seats, I suggested a practice for us.
“For the next couple of minutes, let’s silently express gratitude for all that we have in our life. As we embody that feeling of gratitude, shift to the thought to something that has not happened, but that we’d like to manifest.”
We set off on our respective journeys. I started by quieting my mind and attempting to dissolve the barriers of my body. I tried to sink back from the driver seat of consciousness and witness the unicity of all. I opened myself and this state to Luke as well. Then the dialogue began.
As I begin a new path I struggle with the rationale of how to make it all work. What will I have to sacrifice to step into my higher being? The fear (understanding?) has been that I’m going to have to step back from climbing. Climbing has shaped who I am as a person. It has provided me with growth, friendships and communion with Nature. It’s my seasonal profession that I’ve built a business around. It’s my identity and social currency.
Sitting there beside the river, contemplating my true path, thinking about guiding people in life rather than climbing, I walked myself through that potentiality. What if I gave up climbing? The whole right side of my body twitched. What if I had to conform to a full time job? The right side of my face spasmed. There was something strong and knowing in the dialogue, almost a witness to the other parts. The left side of my body remained still, equanimous. What if I could help others heal themselves? My heart radiated with energy that filled my chest. I expressed gratitude for the job that brought me fulfillment, the one I don’t have yet.
My internal conversation settled. All roads lead here. It’d be rude to ignore the serendipitous opportunity. I asked a friend about becoming an integration coach and the next day, without her doing, a course invitation landed in my inbox. There’s been a hint of knowing about my ability to help others, how they feel around me, how they open up. I feel ready to explore.
I had no idea what Luke was going through in that moment. He was surprised that I didn’t hear his sobs. He was honoring the relationship that just ended, finding joy in messy emotions that come from such a transition. I was ready to complete the exercise but didn’t want to interrupt Luke’s experience. I thought about saying something, holding off, not feeling right. Thinking about what to say, waiting. I couldn’t hear the breathwork Luke was doing over the roar of my experience. “When you’re ready, I invite you finish your expression of gratitude, and return to the present moment.”
We sat in silence for a moment longer.
Tears continued to run down Luke’s cheek in the dark. He shared with me how incredible his experience was. How he was completely ignited, his whole body buzzing, alive with gratitude for his former lover and the experience they shared. I was almost jealous of the potency of his journey but knew my experience was exactly what I needed. He was in disbelief when I told him my cue to end the meditation wasn’t intentionally timed with his climaxing breath.
I won’t deny the power of this event. While Luke is solely responsible for the profundity of his introspection, I recognize that I was the catalyst for it. As I sat there in an altered state contemplating whether I should reduce my hedonistic pursuits to help others heal themselves, my friend was having an episode of transformative healing that I had initiated. I also can’t deny that a day of climbing together lead us to that moment. I can’t see the entire path, but there’s one more lamp along the way.