|(c) Lorenzo Belfrond|
To take a year out between school and Uni was a smart thing to do among those who could afford it. Indeed I suppose for those who could go to Uni it must have been great, I didn’t go to Uni, I went to work! I am not grumbling, I didn’t learn much at school and would’ve probably learnt nothing at Uni. Still the idea has always appealed to me, a time to pause before adulthood, a time to enjoy, a time to mature, a time to gird ones loins or grind ones loins etc. So at the tender age of mid fifties I took over a year out! I did 2 months work, total time away from home and wife and Ariege was 14 months, it could have been longer, but it seemed right at about that length. Why did I do it? I needed it! I needed to get away from climbing which has turned into a shit sport run by internet jockeys. Climbing is so good, that to have thus tainted seems like graffiti in the Sistine chapel. So I ran in autumn, snowboarded in the winter, and ran in the spring and summer. I climbed to 8b but my heart wasn’t into it, and I stopped 3 months ago to try to concentrate on running. Did anything happen, anything profound? Maybe yes, maybe maybe! I have become adroit at staring at stuff and drifting, thinking, I can ignore a few things, and I can run, a certain amount of peace is accessible by being alone.
I lost my temper only once in 14 months! All these things cost a lot. I was poor, and often lonely, I didn’t accomplish much, but re-realised that most stuff is Lego building, or sand castles. I arrived at a place I was 20 years ago, running in the hills and doing a bit of climbing. More interesting was my wife’s time, she has become a yoga teacher and did very well with out me, which was part of the plan and point, but also one of the dangers. As a 50 year old in a world that seems to glorify teenagers I needed to re-acess my future (which could be another 50 years –my god!) I needed to find my path for a while. This may sound hippie or weird but its gotta do with how I see the quality of my time and not wasting it. Entertaining a climbing public while earning other people money isn’t that good, it corrupts my joy. And talking to many sportsmen, they seem think the same. Anyway it’s nice to have met some like minded runners who think like me, shame that they are runners perhaps and not climbers. And to finish there is one lie I must put to rest, age is not a burden, it is a gift. I am old and can run for 36hrs, I can do a good days work, and I can climb what I want. The tiring thing is the chaff, the parasites in climbing, the politicos, and the rabid profiteers, in short, the stuff that needs sorting. The young are learning to be users, it’s the way of the world they see around them Ikead to the ying yang, pre programmed robots.....make a break take that traditional year out. Go surf the Himalaya or run in Kenya.