Cliffs & Climbing
Perfection in an asana (i.e. yoga poses) is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached.
-B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on the Yoga Sutras
The fear of falling is primal. To pursue an activity that involves this risk defies reason. I have skied on the edge of a steep slope not only because the best snow was there, but also to navigate that fine line between safety and danger. Calling it a thrill is a misnomer; it’s deeply satisfying. My tenure as a competitive springboard diver was similar; there was always the possibility for pain and injury, but also transcendence. Alex Honnold, the climber featured in the compelling documentary Free Solo, scales granite cliffs alone and without ropes. He makes real, visible and palpable that possibility with which we all live: at any moment, with the wrong move, you could perish. We are, as a species, precariously perched. Rock climbing, like performing music, like designing, like yoga, requires a combination of artistic and technical expertise. Rarely in those other pursuits, however, is one’s life on the line so blatantly as with free soloing. I strive so intensely to become a more adept designer in order to achieve a more profound personal and professional progress. The impacts of the decisions we help clients make matter on issues related to food, water, energy, and their communities matter. Dangling from the slimmest of hand and foot holds, each move requires precision, a perfection not just to survive, but rather to experience something deeper. Watching my famous classical pianist friend perform is compelling for the same reason as watching Alex climb. In both cases, you know the outcome; accomplishing the goal isn’t the point. The discipline of the climb, the performance, the effort becoming effortless because of the discipline, the yoking of mind, body, consciousness — this is what keeps us alive, however tangible and amplified the risk.