I’ve never viewed myself as a physical person. I mean, I’ve never really been in touch with my own physicality, and my choice of career has never needed me being active; I’ve always preferred to keep to more mental pursuits.

That said, in high school one of my closest friends had invited me and a couple of other folks to check out a climbing gym that had opened in our village. I distinctly remember going through the basic belaying training, the do’s and don’ts and the waivers, and I remember being apprehensive but curious. Before this point in my life, I had tried various sports and stuff: none of the myriad of things I tried had really interested me.

Part of the thing that made me quickly lose interest in a lot of the activities I tried when I was a kid was my own feeling of awkwardness and ungainliness. I knew enough to attempt at playing basketball (and in school intramurals, was forced to as there was a decided lack of boys in my class to form a team), and I could dribble and sort-of, kind-of attempt shots, but I always felt uncomfortable in my own skin playing the game.

PE1 in the latter bits of elementary was fraught with being taught various sports and being organized to play said sports as part of the curriculum, and I actually signed up to band to at least get a pass on PE in high school – the members of band (and other musical groups) were exempted, and we spent our PE periods practicing.

So, this thing my friend invited us to was interesting to me because it sounded different, and I didn’t have a good grasp (yet) of how physical it was. But, strangely enough, I took to it quite well, and I actually felt comfortable and in touch with my body. It was something physical, finally, that I could excel in and not feel awkward about.

After that first encounter, I had fallen in love with the sport. I signed up to do it in college when I learned there was a varsity team for it. Unfortunately, because of a lot of reasons (one of which the lack of a climbing gym or bouldering wall near to my parents place in Las Piñas, where I lived), I had basically stopped climbing, only getting in a few climbs whenever a friend or two decide to try it out.

When I moved here to Sydney I had immediately latched on to the possibility of picking it up again, and I did. At first, it was through some officemates who had been planning to check out a climbing gym. Eventually, I started to go on my own, particularly when I discovered the joys of bouldering – no need for a partner to belay you: just you, the wall, and a problem.

It’s been interesting to take a look at a boulder problem and try to visualize exactly how I would place and position my own body on the wall to send it, or to get past the particular crux of a problem. Initially, I would just attempt it: just wing it, without thinking it through. I’m slowly learning to be more deliberate about my moves now though.

Maybe that’s what attracts me to climbing and bouldering: even with its physicality, climbing is inherently a solo sport, and it is you against the wall. And there is that aspect of problem-solving inherent in it that appeals to me.

Speaking of which, there’s a problem that’s been a bugbear to me the past few weeks at the bouldering gym I’ve been frequenting, an overhanging problem which demands a lot of core strength and skill, or at least I think it does. There might be an easier way to send it, but I haven’t found it yet. I’ve broken through the lower parts of the problem, but the crux of it is pretty tough.

Maybe next week I’ll send it. Maybe.

  1. Physical Education 

Previously: Heuristics