Instagram by Eugenio Plaja.

Today I climbed in possibly the most beautiful gym I have ever been in.

It was frightfully cold. The kind of cold that immediately reminds you of a fall morning at Lincoln Woods. Every intake of breath met with the sharp pain from the air. I thought I would hate it in there. 

Then I looked around at all the people delightfully devoted to the goal of becoming stronger. Old friends, new ones, and those on their own, just like me. I couldn’t help but smile. I shed my winter coat and allowed the air to swallow my arms and fingers, as my T shirt did little to protect me. Toes numb inside the Tenaya’s.

My first few climbs were arduous and stiff with little response from my stubborn fingers. About 30 minutes in, a familiar warm tingle shot to the ends of both my pinkies. The air suddenly felt less like a knife and more like an embrace. My mind settled and I began to really climb. Today I climbed harder than I have in however many years. My hands, fingers, toes only becoming warmer by the minute until the cold I had fixated upon so fiercely when I began barely existed. For the first time in a long time, I felt strong again.

Those of you who know me know the place this sport has held in my life for the last 13 years. I have climbed through sadness and happiness. I have climbed out of love, anger, boredom and necessity. Today I climbed because I witnessed someone who is infinitely stronger than I will ever be decide that he could be stronger still. 

Thanks @roplaja for starting off 2019 with a display of fortitude that hopefully sets the tone for both of us. Love you.

Eugenio Plaja, January 9, 2019

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