My name is George Bieker. I'm a climber, a guide, a coach, and a co-founder at Summation Athletics. Stated simply, climbing is my life. I may do or be many different things to many different people, as we all do in some way or another. But to myself, this dynamic, this self-identification as a "climber" has held true for over a decade now. A decade that without a doubt has been the most culminating and influential of my adult life.
"The most difficult things in the world begin as things that are easy", says the Tao Te Ching. I think it says a lot about how I got here, or to steal a phrase from another luminary source, Alan Watts, how people, well...people. What starts out as, "I'll just try this once" cascades into a riptide, an unbreakable enchantment that can only be described in the words, of "passion", of "love" or of "being". Which is yet more ways to say, "You won't know until you try". Simple symbols or analogies just won't work. No message can convey the gravitas. The gravity of the thing, the stillness found in a moment, the unrelenting draw where we find ourselves lost in action, lost in play. Without direct experience, no reference point can be made. What could sound like an addiction for one could be a path to enlightenment for another. A subtle distinction maybe, but a distinction nonetheless.
"Those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know", another from the East, from Zen, illuminating the path of direct experience. All of this is to say that no matter what the gurus tell you, or what new fitness fad is "in", true progress comes slowly. Be it in your climbing, your life, your training, your work or your play. It comes in moments, in the additive accumulation of seconds into minutes and minutes into hours. The unsexy shit that you won't find on YouTube. Sure it may not always be fun or seem like you're "living the dream", but that's dedication, living for something more than yourself. A silver lining and that is progress. The progress that will add up, slowly at first, but add up nonetheless. The ripple that turns to a wave. The subtle disturbance of air beneath a butterfly's wings that builds and builds into the fury of a hurricane.
Find something that engulfs you, that lights a fire in your eyes. Find that and follow it. Follow it with all your being wherever it may lead. For what started for me as such a simple expression of physicality, a workout for a couple of hours a week in the climbing gym has become everything to me. Now, I climb for work and for play, for travel and for challenge. It brings me to lovers and to friends and just as quickly tears them apart. Climbing for me is a path of progression. Progressions of fitness, of intellect, of the heart and of the mind. It is where I both lose and find myself time and time again amidst colossal obelisks of ice and of stone. So I ask you now...
Where is it that you truly find yourself?
And where o' where may it lead?
This post was originally written for an introduction to myself for Summation Athletics a company that I am both a coach and co-founder for. Learn more about us at our website, linked above.