Joe’s to Moe’s: 7 days in the Valley
Pictured: Mike Dominguez, Evan Hanson, Anne Dominguez, Amanda Desrosiers, and Katy-Robin Garton
Climbing locations: Joe’s Valley and Moe’s Valley, Utah
“So we acknowledge what we are rather than try to hide from our problems and irritations. Meditation should not help you forget your commitment at the office, in fact in the practice of sitting meditation you relate to your daily life all the time. Meditation practice brings our neuroses to the surface rather than hiding them at the bottom of our minds. It enables us to relate to our lives as something workable. I think people have the idea that, if only they could get away from the hustle and bustle of life, then they could really get into some sort of contemplative practice in the mountains or at the seashore. But escaping the mundanity of our lives is to neglect the food, the actual nourishment which exists between two layers of bread. When you order a sandwich, you do not order two layers of bread. You have something in the middle which is chunky, eatable, delicious, and the bread comes along with It.” –The Myth of Freedom, Chogyam Trungpa
So yes, I know bouldering in Utah is not like Buddhism. I suppose climbing around on oversized boulders could be, were I to be a practicing Buddhist. However, neither myself nor the others with whom I traveled to central and southern Utah this spring past were Buddhist nor at the time did we think of the journey in such terms that Trungpa outlines. Maybe we did feel the profundity of the now, in a lost moment, fragmented from the conversation, you know that ongoing stream of thought that happens during extended trips. The long travel days, plane to car, caffeinated daydreams, traffic lights, gas station bathrooms, exhausted but accept it as part of the journey type thing. Perhaps sheer exhaustion may have been the catalyst for a lightening quick yet sincere cathartic release. Maybe we glimpsed some majesty as a peripheral thought, the kind that is barely conscious. I think it would take more considered thinking to unpack the sandwich metaphor and give it some license within our climbing lifestyle. I don’t want to have to stop traveling on behalf of my passion, given that it may lack the middle chunky part. But the elegance with which we camp, connect, and feel during these trips is enough if not proof that being there is what Trungpa may be indicating. This feeling resonates in me, and is evidenced in the artifacts that remain, the records and subsequent memory.
I look back at the photography and have a new experience, one that is equally fragmented and elegant, at least elegant in its memorial of the event. This trip connected a handful of friends gathered on a hillside, excited if only for the moment to be engaged in a physical act. Climbing does have a reality, partly in the form of raw physicality and accepted limitations, which are daily life aspects for climbers. Not everyone is pushing the limits within the climbing world. But pushing their own limits perhaps, in order to feel nourished and satisfied within, and continually return to the journey, which for me is what it’s all about.