Pick up any publication pertaining to the sport of rock climbing, and chances are, you will see a smattering of descriptive chronicles highlighting the travels and adventures of the prolific scribe Abbey Smith. A climber and writer for over 10 years, Abbey travels extensively, financing her jet set lifestyle though her writing, allowing her more opportunities to pursue her love of adventure. Abbey has reported on a myriad of topics. From the exclusive hobby of vintage motor racing, to sassy, healthy-savvy posts on BeThree.com, to being on the editorial staff of the independent green publication elephant journal, a quarterly magazine devoted to living the "mindful life" through conscious consumerism, sustainability, eco-fashion and non new-aged spirituality.
Abbey's energy for writing is ravenous. When she speaks of it, her article ideas roll out of mouth in constant barrage without commas, periods, or other punctuation, but when placed in front of a computer, the word stream subsides into descriptive prose reminiscent of Joanne Harris. Dead Point Magazine is privileged to have her as a contributing blogger.
"If you follow the herd, your view never changes," my father said to me as we sat on the sun-drenched porch one Friday afternoon after I returned from a shotgun road trip to Hueco Tanks. With the current state of the world stricken by chaos, I had come to him for advice about my alternative lifestyle, which had reached a precarious point. While floating freely, unchained by conventional work strains is incredibly thrilling and fulfilling, the lack of security can also be lonely and terrifying at times. Since my father was a teenager, he's refused to conform. As an ex-bull rider then self-made business owner, he's a true cowboy and lives the renegade lifestyle under no one's authority. Almost unknowingly, I chose to follow his lead and pursue my own path. As my father, I wanted him to tell me everything was going to be okay, but he provided no false comfort and sent me on my way.
I caught a case of the wintertime blues from spending the previous month working non-stop and climbing in the gym. When my friend Ty Foose called two hours before departing for Hueco, I hesitated for a brief moment, but split in hope for a little R&R. With only a few days to climb, I had my eye set on Dark Silhouette for its aesthetic beauty, proud difficulty and pristine, remote location beyond the standard classics, where climbers rarely venture. Over the winter it was a place where we'd escape from the holiday hustle and bustle to climb in absolute solitude. But this time, when we arrived, the boulder was grotesquely graffitied with oversized tick marks and had signs of heavy traffic and blatant misuse. In the course of the last month, the area was in vogue and many got to experience its splendor. However, the mob mentality got out of hand and the boulder lost a certain radiance.
My father's lesson seemed obvious at the time, but I've come to realize its urgent importance. Discord is in the air. It's time for a bold new direction, but is impossible if everyone mindlessly follows this slow-moving herd. Maybe it's because I picked up my father's rebellious attitude. Or maybe it's because I never played team sports and spent my youth trying to emulate the flawless flips and spins by my regimented gymnastic coaches. What draws me to rock climbing is the freedom to express and perform without rules and limitations, to be outside with friends and enjoy the unspoiled nature. But as soon as we take this extraordinary experience for granted and stop questioning the system, it all collapses.
It's in our nature to robotically follow the crowd. Some feel the absolute lust for exploration to an almost fanatical degree, while others won't let themselves blossom by stepping outside the box. Successful actions, innovative ideas and social trends get copied and lead to further triumph, but it often stops there due to insecurity or fear of being left behind. Being apart of a tight-knit community is comfortable and supportive, but crippling once we become grazers and lose the plot. Eventually, following the herd goes too far and everyone runs off the cliff together. It's time to evolve and grab life by the bullhorns. We all need to be leaders of our own lives, otherwise you're always behind and looking at someone's ass. Stay ahead of the herd.