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Learning From Somebody Else's Enthusiasm

Because I know nothing about the sport of rock climbing, it seemed like I should at least watch people doing it. When was it -- the early 1990s? -- when this sport became popular where I lived at the time. I had a friend who got sucked in, while I just rolled my eyes at the latest fad.

After all, there weren't good places to pursue the sport locally. So it was likely to turn into one of those sports where one buys a bunch of equipment and spends most of the year planning and fantasizing over a vacation at some exotic location. I have never been attracted to sports that can only be pursued at a few specific locations, far far away from where you live.

Therefore I was not pre-disposed to think highly of the rock climbing that I watched recently. Surprisingly, it was rather interesting.

For one thing the climber was using their entire body, unlike the aerobic sports, which tend to only use the legs, lungs, and heart.

Secondly, there was risk to the climbing. I am not going to offer an advertisement for pursuing risk for the sake of risk. But I won't deny that a certain amount of risk is necessary to make sports interesting.

And what great skill the climber needed. He was intensely focused on problem solving of a mechanical and gymnastic nature. He wasn't just plodding along on some tedious sport that leaves nothing to talk about at the end of the day, other than "how many miles did you do?"

So there is much to be said for climbing. But that isn't really the point. It was an example of what I need to when I do anything outdoors, or more generally, when I pursue a do-it-yourself project, or read books. I need to ask myself: why is this interesting?, or what could I do to make it more interesting?

For instance I don't think much of technical mountain biking trails. But by focusing on skill rather than tedious plodding, I can reap some of the advantages that the climbers have.