Early this year I took a few climbing lessons at the age of 69 – inspired by family developments. I used to be a fair tree-climber and sea-cliff scrambler; I dislike any form of mechanical or competitive exercise. At Swiss Cottage climbing centre in London I learned to manage the rope and belay a climber safely, and to climb a wall and to abseil down it. I felt scared but each time I came away with a stretch of freedom in my spine – like a cat. I was hooked. Recently I started at the Castle climbing centre at Manor House near Finsbury Park. I go alone, to practice bouldering and to watch.
The Castle is an old pumping station, built as a huge Victorian folly with turrets and three towers – a handsome building. Some 20 years ago it was leased from English Heritage and turned into reputably the most varied indoor climbing centre in the land. It stands in an acre of organic garden; all the food is home grown and the place is run on self-sustaining lines.
I would like to be at the Castle all day, take some good reading and find a nook between scrambles, like writing in a coffee shop. I could alternate climb-stretch exertions and scribing. Yesterday I kept getting bored and tired and then caught up in it again. Perhaps I want someone to do it with. A brand-new bouldering room is about to be opened.
And … why not sketch? … from life! I just did these from photos. Keep practicing.
How odd that I was so snooty about the climbing centre my niece took me to, many years ago – somewhere in the east end. She and her man monkeyed sleekly up and down fierce looking walls. When I had a go I hated it. There was no sea-breeze cliff or moorland view to lift or inspire my dragging body weight, no rock for fingers to love, just dead cement and coloured toy holds. I felt like a stone. I was amazed at the guys climbing along the ceiling like spiders. I thought they were fanatics.
You know … in rock climbing for senior moments, don’t just try to complete a traverse or a wall; be inventive with the holds and their funny shapes, seek out different things with them, stay on the spot, find out what my toes can do. That pleasing tingling ache in my hands develops finger strength – the same delicate dexterity for playing the piano. Blood flow increases and differentiates the tendons. Walk tall! Feet strengthen also. Can stand tippy-toes better than before, I think. Body core – gravity centre – I was aware of this many times yesterday when moving laterally. I picked up some tips while watching rock climbing videos online. Sooner or later I will strike up a friendship or join a rope or get myself a lesson with one of the helpful staff. Wait and see. Right now my whole body is delighted to be doing this. I like the chalky smell there, and sometimes they play cool sounds. In the 2nd-floor cafe is excellent coffee and restorative peanut bars to eat while watching high and daring ascents with rope and pitons Nearby is a kid’s wall which I scramble up and down. I love watching the kids; they come with their teacher and scamper all over the sheer slabs – I never grew up!
We older folk are sensitive or rugged individual types … the sweetness of the solitude on distant fells comes to this place, to keep in trim.
What do my molecules, cells, nerve fibres and enzymes of the Great Change feel about it? I am a stretchy amoeba pattern of trillions of stars. That’s nice – try to recall that, next time! I would like my climbing to be contemplative as the technique slowly enters my bones. Yesterday it felt like stepping back. At Swiss Cottage wall earlier this year, they said when you are learning you progress for a couple of sessions and then it seems you slip back and that’s natural because next time it is suddenly easier. The oscillation moves forward and back, like when hung on a difficult place. New agilities being built take time. The muscle while developing is young, hard and unwieldy. It needs to loosen into itself and become flexible, for the flexibility and grace is power. These are lessons for life.
It is the same principle my David talked about, re any kind of physical exercise: don’t do it every day, take days off in between for the agility to develop as a whole. While at rest, it sinks in to build new cells.
The same principle guides the inner work. The Spirit is in charge. Awaken to it! Advise and entice my stellar amoeba over the playground; then rest. I guess as I cultivate my slow and dainty deliberation, the technique will come, because rock climbing isn’t with brute strength but with coordination. Coordination is the core. The core gets blissed out when she is filled with the inner star. The beautiful lesson of Life: Core Strength, let go and watch her reach and swing and flow. Surprise! Delight!
Click to access 55th-genekey-prelude.pdf
Hey, Gene Key 55! Richard Rudd’s talk of molecules and blood circulation in the music of change brought to my mind a starfish. “The human being is nothing more than a symphony of interwoven rhythms, tempos and sounds.” A robin calls outside: and Clive who loves Richard Jeffries, records vibrant birdsongs on his website Art in Nature. DNA is structured in triplets. All our relationships are triadic. Musical form is ABA with C. Abac-us.
I like my primary-coloured abacus and its beads. The magus – my inner teacher – is getting interested and encourages me with the climbing.
You know it is such a chance for magic – the inner plane – to river into embodiment and to fill flesh, bone and sinew with stars and to know and respect the tired crystals in our blood: the imagination illumines.
She is the beginning, and out of her unbounded oceanic “confusion” the male arises to differentiate and gather it into a distaff – Siva’s still point within the centre of each wheel within wheels. The feminine Sakti movement giving birth to and generated through the stillness, plays on the loom of numberless threads.
My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom. See also Aquariel
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