Our life is our passions

Railey Beach, Thailand. Some of the best climbing on the planet.

After two weeks of traveling Cambodia, I finally made it to my final destination…Thailand. The land of a thousand smiles, the land of the most amazing food I’ve ever eaten, and the land of beautiful beaches and scenery. Just finished a day doing some of the best rock climbing in the world…in Railey Beach. Many of you don’t know but I climbed rocks and mountains for years. In fact, that was my big passion before getting into running/yoga. So I paid a guide yesterday to take me out not knowing how I’d do after over two years of not climbing. First couple of climbs for me were sloppy affairs…my technique was rusty…so I was pulling too hard with my arms instead of climbing with my feet and using the much stronger muscles of my legs. You have to be careful rock climbing that you don’t “blow out your arms” by cranking on them too hard. It is easy to completely exhaust yourself after just one climb. So I told the guide I needed to do something easier. I climbed some easy routes later in the morning…5.6, 5.7, 5.8. I began climbing slowly and focusing on my posture and especially using my feet. After another tasty Thai lunch we began climbing harder routes in the afternoon.

By doing something easier first, by warming up, and getting back to basics, my old form began to return. I began dancing on the rock, instead of cranking through cruxes, I’d work my feet up, then be able to reach through the cruxes, saving my arm energy. I climbed four of the most amazing climbs ever that afternoon, with a beach underneath me, a view of the Andaman sea.

There was a moment late afternoon, as I stepped on a stalactite, 60 feet off the ground, where it all came back to me…the thrill of living on the edge…the fear of falling…the views…the exhiliration of doing something I thought I couldn’t do. And I thought to myself “why do I not do the things I love” in California. Rock climbing was a lover I let slip away. Partners got married, had kids, mortgages, got responsible….all the things I’ve been avoiding. This became an excuse for me to not live. I’ve been fooling myself to think running, yoga, resting was it.

I love running. I love yoga. I also love so many other things that have come back to me on this trip. I try to go out dancing every night…usually to the local Cambodian or Thai clubs. Often the only farang (westerner) in there. Here thousands of miles from home…in the middle of a dance floor…I am home. I feel the freedom to express myself with my hips, arms, legs, and my smile. That energy and enthusiasm is so contagious, it spreads so quickly. I can find dancing partners here very easily, no attitudes, no looks at me like “who are you” like I face in Los Angeles.

So here Southeast Asia, I’ve fallen in love with so many things. Girls. Food. Climbing. Yoga. Running. And Dancing. The things that make me feel alive. I’m not sure how all this experience will manifest itself when I return and go running with the Beach Runners, teaching yoga, teaching english.

But I do know I’ve changed. I’m opening up. Becoming more of me. Instead of what I think I should be.

I’m learning to live more passionately. More on the edge. With a big open heart unafraid to express itself, let the joy of living spill out for all to see and to return to all the things I love when I come back to the California. Life is short. When we die we will be remembered for the things we loved.

So love something with all your heart. Even its only for a minute or an hour or day or even better…

a lifetime.

Run with Joy,

Gary Smith, ChiRunning® Instructor


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