Friday, October 11, 2013

Extreme Sport

We were lying flat on our backs, just roused from a deep relaxation that we started the session with. Following the teacher's verbal instructions, we raised one leg, folded it to the side, then pressed it back down onto the floor. Adjusting the hips to be properly aligned and as neutral as possible stretched the folded leg muscles to a point beyond comfort, naturally. We raised the other leg, then folded that on top of the one already in position.

I heard gasping to my left. Not being in the deep focus that I ought to be, I turned my head. She, a woman in her thirties, was looking at me with one of the most tortured expressions I'd witnessed in class.

"So painful!" she cried, her legs dangling awkwardly, in her futile attempt to get into the pose. I could but offer her a sympathetic smile.

Throughout the hour-long practice, she sighed and grunted, struggled and stumbled, and constantly fought fatigue and pain.

I was reminded of this photo I once came across:

(Source: Pinterest)

So - relaxing pastime, spiritual path, or extreme sport? It definitely isn't, in practice, a spiritual path - not unless one purposely chooses to look at the activity as being spiritual. When I took up yoga, about 5 or 6 years ago, I'd meant to increase my flexibility, tone up my muscles, improve focus, and on the overall, achieve a more relaxed physical and mental state. Well, in a way, I do feel that I sleep a lot better on nights before which I had yoga sessions, but honestly, I can't say it's not because I'd usually be full of aches and tired out. A relaxing pastime? Maybe.

Take a look:

(Source: Eve Post Apple)

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

An extreme sport? Most definitely!

So this, plus martial arts and climbing, makes me an extreme sports girl! *Ahem!*

(confession: I can't do any of the poses in the photos I posted....... yet =P)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Accidental Proposal

This is quite the worst I've read, in as long as I remember. Yes, worse than the worst of the Twilight books, which I consider one of my most regretted impulse purchase.

Taken from the back cover of the book:

Ed Middleton's just got engaged. At least, he thinks he has.

The thing is, it was his girlfriend Sam who did the proposing, and the more he thinks about it, the less he's sure that she was actually asking him to marry her. She could have just been asking the question, you know...hypothetically.

As the wedding day approaches, Ed becomes more and more uneasy. Sam keeps disappearing off for furtive meetings and private phone calls, and when he spies her going into a pub with a man he's never seen before, all his old jealousies and insecurities threaten to re-surface. It's the perfect time for Ed's unhinged ex, Jane, to show up on his doorstep.

Meanwhile, best-friend and soon-to-be best man Dan is determined to make Ed's stag night go with a bang. And when a severely hung-over Ed wakes up the morning after to see a second dent in the pillow, it seems as if that's exactly what happened.

Will Ed manage to find out the truth about his stag night as well as the identity of Sam's secret man? Or will an accidental proposal lead them both down the aisle to a wedding neither of them ever imagined?

Guess what... that's the entire story! Not pretty much the entire plot, but the actual entire plot, minus the conclusion, which by the way, became quite clear way too early. And the answer is yes. Both "Will Ed bla bla bla...?" and "Or will an accidental proposal bla bla bla...?" - yes. I hope by spoiling it for you I'm saving you the hours you might spend reading Ed's endlessly obsessing about Sam's mystery man, his ex, and his mystery dent-in-the-pillow. That's four hundred pages of the obsessive thoughts in Ed's head, followed by a repetition of those thoughts in form of conversations with Dan, repeated in an outer loop until the end.

Basically, this is a book of no substance. There isn't much of a storyline. There is no notable character development. In fact, there are no notable characters in addition to the few already mentioned in the back cover write-up. These (I think there were only two or three) were so trivial and inconsequential that honestly, only after a couple of weeks since finishing the book, I can't even recall their names, or how they relate to the "main" characters anymore. As if all these aren't enough, a part of the repetitive text is the super annoying reminder (by Ed, as the narrator) of how intellectually-challenged his best-friend is, and how his ex cheated on him. Continuously. On loop. 

So, in contrary to the Sophie Kinsella quote printed on the front cover, Matt Dunn's writing makes you want to roll your eyes inside out. The only reason I read it to the last page is I'm out of my mind. I finished an awful book, rolled my eyeballs till the extraocular muscles hurt, just so I can write a negative review of it. I'm so out of my mind.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Letting Go

After so long, most of the time, the warm-up lead is routine. A comfortable, easy, routine. The movement is fluid, like clockwork. The first clip is usually a breeze. Past the third clip, it is high enough to not hit the ground in case of a fall, unless the rope has way too much slack. After clipping in at the seventh, it is time to let go.

Staring at my hands, willing them to relinquish their hold, I block out the awareness of the distance I will drop. I inhale deeply, exhale, let go and let myself fall.

It seems easy. It is in fact, easy, for most climbers. It isn't for me, unfortunately. It is for me, the hardest part of my training. Many a time I simply couldn't do it. The fear isn't just in my head. It is real, it is crippling.

It's been three years since I took up sports climbing. It's been at least half as long since I took up lead climbing. The best I can do is clean a 5c (5.9) lead route. I can finish some 6a (5.10a) routes, but with one or two (or more!) rests, so they absolutely do not count. It is easy to blame my lack of progress on my lack of actual climbing - serious climbers climb 4 times a week, minimum, whereas I do once, sometimes not at all. My tiny stature - short limbs and all - makes a good excuse, as well as my limited brute strength and power, being a lady and all... *Ahem!*

Truth be told, even if I were more committed in my strength training in the gym, I'd still be held back by the one aspect I don't care to condition - mental strength. My climbing partner's been constantly reminding (which is how I politely mean nagging, scolding, threatening etc.) me to overcome my fear of falling.

This is the reason I am compelled to persist in the falling exercises - to learn to let go, and trust that everything will be fine. Yes, fine, in spite of risks of scrapes and bruises, and shameful involuntary squeals...

Saturday, October 5, 2013


It usually is great when outcomes are highly predictable. One knows what to expect, one knows there will be no surprises. Except, in circumstances which the predicted outcome isn't the one one really wants.

Sometimes, I wonder - truly wonder - if sentimentality is actually hardwired in me. Time after time I've been disappointed and frustrated by responses, which predictability is so high I can almost forecast them word-by-word, and yet, I still willingly participate in events that call for them. Did I honestly believe that this time would be different from the previous countless occasions? No, I didn't. But I still went along. I wish I could understand why.

So here it is - the cycle of getting what I expected I'd get; then, facing the familiar wave of annoyance and exasperation; and finally, the resolve to not put myself in the same situation ever again. A resolve that will not be kept.

I wish I could care less. I really do. An emotionless being operating on pure logic and reason can't be that fun, but at least (s)he wouldn't hurt.