By Joshua Lavigne, professional rock climber
There are moments in life that define who we are as individuals and ultimately connect us to the greater existential experience. For many, these come from when we meet our true love or the first smile of a child or maybe the passing of a loved one. In these moments of joy and sadness we feel life brush up against the skin and we are motivated to discover who we are and where we belong.
I can confidently say that the majority of my life-affirming memories, either good or bad, have come from athletic pursuits and more specifically climbing; while pushing my mental and physical limits in high and wild places. But the motivation to seek out new challenges and adventures can fade unless we replenish it, for the modern life not only distracts us from our family and community but from ourselves. And the memories of life’s great moments are obscured and often forgotten by the layers of comfort which become a cocoon separating us from the struggle of the human experience.
During the long, stormy days in my tent north of the 70th parallel this summer, I contemplated the things that keep me inspired and motivated after 20 years of climbing. Here are a few that keep me going:
1. Discomfort is not to be feared
From a young age my father taught my brothers and I to not be afraid of dark nights, cold water or naked men. You may laugh, but this is one of the greatest lessons a young man wishing to be a climber and ultimately an alpinist could ever have; for the fear of discomfort is a fear we can control and eventually overcome.
2. Enjoy the struggle, especially once it is over
I am speaking about Type-2 fun. The fun that we enjoy when the adventure is over, while back home taking a warm shower. I am always in awe at how I enjoy the simple things after returning from the bleakness and solitude of the mountains. I take the time to remind myself how lucky I am to have warm water, fresh vegetables, and a community of loving friends and family.
3. Create a mental mind map to stay positive about failure
Climbing is primarily a mental activity; a mélange of self-esteem, mental acuity, physical-confidence, focus and commitment. When I create a mind map of strengths and weakness I can turn a negative performance into an opportunity for greater self-awareness and, therefore, turning a negative outcome into a positive outlook. The result of not reaching the summit becomes a success in overcoming the fears of uncertainty and failure and I remained motivated to always try again.
4. Flow like the seasons
I climb during every season but my climbing as well as my training ebb with the seasonal changes. My body and psyche get tired and if I don’t make the time to rest I burn out. I have seen it countless times with friends and co-workers. When it is time to rest, rest, and when it is time to go hard, give everything you have. But don’t forget to celebrate the changing of the seasons.
5. Stay healthy in mind and body (the spirit will follow)
Well, this is easier said than done, especially when the fire is burning hot. But, we all eventually encounter the hurdles of injury, fatigue and depression and especially if we ignore the signs of overtraining and fatigue and don’t give the body the nutrition it needs. Nothing dowses the fire more than the inability to feel healthy and happy. Eat well, train well, be well and the spring of motivation with flow unhindered.
The climbing life can often be detrimental to nutritional health especially during long expeditions, which is why supplementation is such an important part of my diet. But finding the perfect combination of variety, taste, and calorie intake is more complicated and requires more luck then finding a match on your local internet dating site. Luckily, Vega has a collection of products that not only meets all the criteria listed in the must have category for a fast and hot fire but also has the foundation in nutritional science for the slow burning flame. The combination of products that gave me the warm a fuzzy feeling of a new relationship during my month long trip on Baffin Island this summer was the Vega Sport line and specifically the Vega Sport Chocolate Coconut Protein Bar. Most of my relationships with supplements are unhealthy and fade but I have a feeling this new one is going to burn hot and long.
Follow Joshua on his blog to learn more about his passion for climbing and adventure.
About Joshua Lavigne
Rock-climbing is more than a passion; it is a way of life. This has long been the case for Joshua. For over a decade, Joshua has committed his life to climbing. He has climbed in India, Pakistan, and Argentina. More recently he has completed his third trip to Baffin Island, establishing himself as one of Canada’s leading alpinists. He is also an IFMGA Mountain Guide, which has allowed him to transform his passion for climbing into a career.
Joshua’s mountain adventures are defined by an interest in maintaining the high standard of the Canadian alpine tradition. His adventures are defined by a spirit of adventure that not only pushes the limits of what is physically possible but what is mentally possible.
Although Joshua’s home is now in Canmore, his penchant for adventure and climbing was nurtured by a humble upbringing in a quiet corner of Quebec’s Eastern Townships. From a young age, he and his brother’s would search the rolling hills of the Appalachians, always inspired for greater adventure. Joshua eventually bought a one-way ticket west and has been enjoying his passion for remote and wild places ever since.