Almost exactly a month ago, I joined a climbing gym.
I doubt there’s ever been anything that’s ever attracted me less than climbing. But the place is $45 a month and just a few blocks from my house. I knew if I joined, I’d go every day, and quickly get in better shape. And I figure my being healthy and mentally fit is easily worth $45 a month to the animal protection movement.
I hate heights the same way I hate raw beets. I’ll tolerate either, but not happily. Being high off the ground and having any possibility of falling sucks. And I don’t trust me or my partner enough to not screw up in some way.
As a result, I “boulder” rather than “top rope.” When bouldering, you can only climb about twelve feet or so, and you can jump off anytime onto soft mats. Bouldering demands this wonderful combination of mental focus, technique, and strength. I’ve got very little of each. I’m soft, unskilled, and weak. I like the humbling I get each time I climb, and the fact that I’m gradually filing away at my inabilities. I’ll never become anything like an expert at bouldering, but I like the route I’m slowly, very slowly, taking towards becoming an intermediate climber.
Anyway, this brings me to the point of what I’m trying to do with this Tumblelog. I’m currently one of the very worst climbers at the gym, and will be for some time. So I spend a lot of time watching other climbers and trying to figure out how I can improve. But here’s the interesting thing: the best climbers in the gym have absolutely nothing to teach me. Between their strength and their technique, it’s like they’re in a different universe from mine. Even if I paid absolute attention to each micro-movement they do, I don’t begin to have the strength or expertise required to execute.
The people I can learn from are not the elite climbers, but rather just the better climbers in the gym. They’ll do routes that are beyond my ability, but I watch them and learn a thing here, another thing there. I can’t follow their routes, but I can follow portions of what they’re doing — and over time build up my strength and technique to follow ever-larger segments of their lead.
In the world of activism, that’s what I’m going to try to offer with this blog. There are some amazing activists in the animal protection world, people who are doing things I could never aspire to equal. People like Wayne Pacelle, Paul Shapiro, Nathan Runkle, and John and Jack with Vegan Outreach. I assert that these people are working at a level so complex that the things they do are far beyond what a beginning or intermediate activist can aspire to.
I don’t consider myself an elite activist. In activist terms, as somebody who’s had animal protection at the center of his life for thirteen years or so, I consider myself to be one of the better climbers in the gym. I think there’s a lot that I do that newcomers could learn from. And that’s really the point of this blog: to show you, day by day, what my activist life is like —- and to give you the ideas and techniques that will help you to expand your animal protection efforts.