Why Climb Ice?! (has more to do with my art than you think)

I am crazy about climbing and even crazier about climbing ice.  ICE?!!!  Yup.  I’ve tried to reason that one out myself and can’t.  How can a sport where frozen fingers, bitter cold cramps, huge helpings of danger, long difficult approaches and a guarantee of suffering be something to be crazy for? Ah…but the ice.  The ice!  Constant changing sculpture…capturing light, holding light, bouncing light, sucking light, reflecting light, spitting light.  Magic.  The stuff of crystal balls…enticing…confusing…delicate and impressive.  Like the eyes of the snake in the Walt Disney version of Jungle Book…ice entices.  “Trust in me…eeeeeeeee,” the snake sings, his eyes spinning, working their magic.  Allure, hypnotism and like Mogli I am drawn in grinning stupidly.

“You…are…so…beeaaauuuuutifulllllll…I say all dreamlike.

But then comes the moment of getting down to business…which means getting my feet off of the ground and that is where the voices come in.  I’ve a zillion of them.  “You haven’t eaten enough.”  “You are not strong enough”  “You’re nuts.”  Maybe its too early…too late…the ice too hard…too soft…too long…too blue.  What if these weren’t the right gloves?  Underwear?  Chap stick?  Egads the voices can be loud and obnoxious like a kindergarten class before school.  But the bell rings…the voices get louder and the activity even more frenzied before the teacher claps her hands yelling, “Settle down”  I send the thoughts to their desks…better yet…I try to shut them up inside the desks and worry about the mess later.  Right now I gotta climb.

And so I do. Clumsy at first…I know and now accept the fact that it takes me awhile to warm up to any activity I am doing. Others leap out of the starting gate and whiz into things. I wheeze. But long after their jumpstart I’ve found a pace and a place in my mind where the energizer bunny lives…I can keep going and going and going. Thank god. Somehow I find myself being of the right constitution to keep plodding. Onward and upward…one foot in front of the other…or an ax placement in the ice a toe kicking a crampon point in…I can make myself keep going.

After the clumsy klutzy start, the doubts and dreams tumble and jumble together creating an intoxicating tonic that quenches my thirst for living. The same elixir propels me to create - pushing boundaries and scaring myself in the studio day after day. Art happens in the places and spaces outside the comfort zone. Curiosity, drive and passion push. Art happens when I get my feet off of the ground and the Energizer Bunny steps in to propel me forward. Much of art is plodding - one chisel mark after another – chasing a vision sparked by light. Art making is as ethereal as water – flowing or momentarily frozen – constantly changing, challenging, and compelling. Humbling. Inticing. Adventurous art is a leap of faith finessed with skill and the kind of sharpened intuition which comes from a bold spirit tuned in.