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Monday, February 12, 2007

Musing #5: Transcendence

There is good music playing, a hard, fluid beat. I have a rare moment when I’ve got enough space to move, to really move. Down at the floor, the lights play a seductive, repetitive pattern. I can feel the music starting to gel to something tactile and the people to fade to mist. I breathe the music in, draw it down, I smile a small private smile and allow myself to let go, to lose myself in it. I draw in all my senses to within a circle I can reach with my outstretched hands and touch between my feet and head, DaVinci’s man. Everything else goes away. There is no sense of place, of time, of crowd, no thought, no love or hate, just me, the music and gravity holding me to the floor. It is just movement, pure movement. What defines these moments is that every sense is hooked directly to body without the intervening filtering, processing and worry of our over-busy brains. I am no longer thinking of moving, just moving because that is where my body is supposed to be next. It is a reminder that we are built to move, we are made to dance, to know the intimate thoughts of our fingertips and sinew. I love these moments, these rare glimpses of transcendence. People go to a lot of trouble and do a lot of drugs to experience this. I smile at the flit of thought before it too gets forced to the edge of the bubble. Some feel this narrowing in a sport, in meditation or in sex. Me, it’s easiest when I dance. I know that it is not a state I can remain in for long. These experiences are oh so short. Soon enough, 2, 3 minutes max, and the world will again intrude – a change of music, a bump from someone, a stray thought, a blinking loss of faith that flying is possible – and break this fragile state. I will come back to reality a quarter second out of sync and will rejoin my friends back on Earth, in this club, in this room in space and time. But for a blissful moment I am connected to everything and to nothing.


Kick. Step. Kick. Step. Ice Axe. Breathe. Kick. Step. Kick. Step. Ice Axe. Breathe.

Behind me trails a long chain of symmetrical boot-holes trails for 200m below, above only steep unbroken white. A single orange line reminds me that I am attached to three others repeating my motions below. The strong wind drowns out all but the sound of my own breath and the crunch of snow beneath my boots. I know there is a view to make one weep behind over my shoulder, but for the moment climbing is taking my total attention, every sense connected to my motions. There are no worries about pending office emails, of things I need to pick from the supermarket, of war or peace. There is nothing else, but ensuring each foot in the snow holds, the strong coalition of muscle and blood, and of a sharp, personal understanding of gravity and friction better than any physicist. I know the exact state of my muscles, blood circulation in my fingers and oxygen levels in my lungs. It feels like in this foreign world, we are so loosely bound that the 4 of us might float away like astronauts if we do not concentrate on holding ourselves to the surface. Here too in those moments of nothing and everything is transcendence and one of the reasons I keep coming back to climb in these vast temples.

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