Tonight while training at S1, I saw a familiar face for whom I have not seen or spoken to in a couple of years. Though the guy didn't look at cut as he was yesteryear, he was just as muscular and in the off moment I was resting from my training set, I caught a moment of his climbing. To no surprise, he was climbing hard as nails. Holy crap these young bucks have all the energy in the world.
Later in the evening as I was saying my goodbyes to a few friends around the gym, I found my way over to the kid. We shook hands and hugged each other, acknowledging the long period of time that had past since our last conversation. Asking how he's been and what he's been up to, he gave a somewhat vague answer, not really eluding to any particular activity. I referred to this as simply "time off" and asked how long it has been. His only reply was "awhile...". Further asking him how it felt to be back, his reply was surprising...
"I feel heavier for sure."
"It's all good brother, it's like riding a bike, it'll come back."
"Doesn't feel like riding a bike."
"It's always tough in the beginning, when you're starting up again."
I gave him a hug again and encouraged him to keep hittin' it, and that I hope to see him back at S1 soon. It's always good to see him climbing as it's such a big part of his life. Equally as much I've always respected him and his brother; both such strong climbers and great guys. Very polite and courteous, well-mannered young men. It's a privilege to be in their company and to share in the same sport and community.
Admittedly, tonight was an unusual instance in that despite climbing hard, there was a strong sense of defeat and disappointment in his voice. I very well know what it feels like to "feel heavy" while pulling; it's as if you're carrying the weight of true failure on your shoulders. And not just in a literal sense but in a deep-reaching, mentally and emotionally blocking sense.
As much as I tried to encouraged him (one of my long-time inspirations in climbing), it seemed as though his own thoughts of self-defeat were getting him down and lowering his psych. In hindsight, I have to take responsibility for not communicating better with him. As a typical guy, I defaulted to a very typical guy response when confronted with emotional needs: "It's all good", which technically is on par with "You'll be ok" or "It'll be ok".
It would have been much better to simply give the guy a hug and say "I understand how you feel. And it's OK to feel that way". My initial answer, though intended to instill a sense of support, instead has an underlying negative aspect; I doesn't acknowledge how he felt. I could sense that disappointment, could hear it in his voice, yet didn't say a thing to acknowledge it, and instead offered up words meant to circumvent his emotional state.
If I could rewind, I would offer him a simple bit of comfort with that acknowledgement, then equally as much remind him of one absolute fact; he's already traveled this road. With that, if he chooses to take it again, he already knows his way, and he already knows what's on the other end. With so many accomplishments and titles under his belt, so may elite level problems with sends recorded with his name, he only need to look to his past to know what he's capable of. It's not a matter of if...only a matter of when. My apologies to the young brother; feeling down about yourself can be tough on your mental game. Your feelings are shared with many and you have our love and support. We're here when you need it!
I've been listening to this video at work for the last couple of days. I'm surprised I haven't heard this speech before! Some amazing and inspiring words from our former governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Worthwhile for anyone to listen. And I'm sure my young friend would greatly benefit from the message being delivered: