In this modern climbing age, the term "monkey" is thrown about rather flipantly, without a second thought of the meaning or depth behind the label. On a surface level it makes plenty of sense. A monkey likes to climb, I like to climb rocks, therefore I am a Stone Monkey. As easy as 123, or is it?
Before I delve deeper into this subject I must say; this essay has nothing to do with you being or not being a Stone Monkey. The beauty of climbing and living is there are no distinct defenitions. We are what we are, through and through, following our given paths until the very end.
To me, a Stone Monkey exists in a space where climbing is an automatic extenstion of anamalistic routine. Movement is not forced by thought, but rather flows out of a connection with the stone. When I pull onto a wall, a mountain, or a boulder, I am in that very rare spot, where I don't need to think about my actions, wrong or right, responsible or irresponsible; I just know I am where I should be, connecting the right dots, and easily following my instinct. This assuredness comes from years on the rocks, building muscle memory and shaping my mind to see normality in the vertical.
Being a Stone Monkey also inlcudes an undying love for the mediums I move and live in. Watching the sun set crouched on an airy ledge, sleeping best under stars and moon, taking in the beauty of my position mid climb and connecting that power with my present situation. The list goes on, but for me, the intamacy I feel with my surroundings helps me become a part of my environment. I am that piece of lichen undisturbed on a granite slab, that lizard crawling into a crack, that gnarly pine duking it out with a gusty wind. When I climb I try to feel the organic rythm of things, always hoping to be on key with the other members of nature's choir.
Living as a Stone Monkey is as humbling as it is inspiring. The raw experiance of being a productive member of nature always reminds me of how typically fragile life is. A dead sparrow on a belay ledge or the bones of a deer scattered amongst the boulders quickly remind me that for us all it's ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Not to say the world doesn't spin a fair cycle. Life is mostly what I know. Wild flowers in the spring, cougar tracks in a fresh, woodsy snow, or my friends faces around the fire. Again, like the reminders of the end, an inspiration to live to the fullest, each moment, each day.
So there you have it! A clearly inadequate take on an alternative lifestyle. My heart and body are always being molded, leaving evolving shapes of me in different phases of my journey on earth. But the core values always remain the same. Although parts of me yet discovered are sure to blossom and the tree of my life bound to grow, those values are the foundation of my being. So no matter what I become, I will never escape the true Jens, a Stone Monkey for life.