We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle.
Can it be three months since I promised a grand rant on tangents? I guess I drifted off on a series of tangents, as, looking back at my posts since then, I've posted a series of short trip reports, and random rants about such topics as Instagram and the commercialization of the paleo diet among other things. But then, what should resurrect my interest in tangents but another blog post crossing one my social media feeds which promised "tips to get you confident in climbing and back on trad."
Now, I'm one of those terminally nervous lead climbers that seems to constantly battle the fear of falling with resultant death or dismemberment so I clicked on the link and was instantly disappointed. Here is another one of those posts that are big on pictures (large pictures too) and short on information. What information there is, is, once again, largely tangential to the issue at hand. The first and only useful "tip" is to start out leading below your grade - although recommending rope soloing is dubious considering the target audience. Otherwise we are exhorted to hike, trail run, strength train and do yoga - phew, that busy schedule will probably leave most folks not only out of time but out of energy to actually go climbing - and follow a sound nutritional plan (whatever that is).
Whew, belay stance
Perhaps, if this is an example of the dominant advice, it is no wonder people spend most of their time tinkering around the margins instead of tackling their goals head on. But, for every useless social media article extolling trail running as a way to train for climbing (for example), there are at least as many articles that offer much more useful advice, like this one, which, basically is just another take on "you are what you do."
Easy ground, feels good
I, however, am both a skeptic and a cynic (also a conspiracy theorist, but that is not relevant here) and think that the real reason people faff about the edges has more to do with their stated goals not actually being congruent with their real goals, than it does about confusion with how to achieve them. In other words, we are prone to fooling ourselves. We think we want to achieve something - losing 25 kg, climbing a big wall, sea kayaking around Australia - it all sounds incredibly badass, legit., or whatever the latest hipster term is, but really, we don't want that at all, or at least not enough to work really hard and suffer deprivation. Fussing about the borders, however, allows us to hold two disparate beliefs (cognitive dissonance) in our minds at the one time. We are working towards our goals, all the while not really wanting to arrive.