July 21, 1969.
(I know, most of you weren’t even alive yet.) I was alive: a young boy sitting on the brown shag carpet of our living room floor with my dad, watching a nail biting drama being played out in real life. It’s one of the first memories of my life that I have and I will never forget that day. Mesmerized by the images our 25 inch Magnavox Console Color TV, the scene before us was almost impossible to believe. Apollo 11 had reached the moon and Neil Armstrong was about to open the hatch of the lunar module and become the first human ever to step foot on a celestial body. I asked my dad what he thought would happen when he stepped onto the moon. “I don’t know”, he replied honestly. “He might be fine and he might just immediately be evaporated!”
If my attention wasn’t glued on the screen already, it definitely was after that statement! You know how it turned out: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Man had walked on the moon!
Now I know that much very important scientific information was gained by that space trip, but infinitely more significant was the inspiration it provided to a nation . . . and to me. ‘We can do anything that we set our minds to’ was the resounding response. This was during the middle of the Vietnam war, when boys were coming home daily in body bags. This was also during the beginning of the cold war, as school children were being instructed on how to place our heads on our knees in case of a nuclear attack (I’m pretty sure just so we wouldn’t have to watch our classmate’s faces melt off of them). And yet, everyone was stoked. Giddy even. I put away my army men and asked for space men toys for Christmas. Our nation held it’s head a bit higher. The Apollo astronauts became instant celebrities.
Never underestimate the power of inspiration. The word itself has it’s origins in the Latin word inspirare, which means ‘to breathe’, as in to provide life giving breath. That’s what inspiring events and people do, they breathe life into an otherwise dying world.
That’s why we all love an epic movie, or a love story, or a documentary on triumph isn’t it? Because they inspire us, they breathe into us.
I remember a few years ago when Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell became the first to climb the Dawn Wall in Yosemite. All the major news stations picked up on the story and even President Obama tweeted about it. It was a huge accomplishment, made even more epic by Kevin’s shredded finger tips and almost miraculous effort. During that time there were some who were very critical of the coverage. They claimed that Tommy and Kevin were just attention seeking thrill seekers and shouldn’t be promoted, let alone celebrated. But what they missed was the inspiration of the event. Yes, it was just a rock climb, and yes, it didn’t solve world hunger or the energy crisis. What it did do was give the rest of us hope once again that the impossible is not always as impossible as we believe.
I believe with all of my heart that climbing has the power to change lives. I’ve seen it so many times. I’ve seen it on the face of the young boy when he first walks in and looks up the 40 foot walls. I’ve seen it on the face of the executive the first time she takes a lead fall. And I’ve seen it on the face of that awkward high school student who has finally found his niche in life.
We are on the ‘I’ in our B.L.I.S.S. acrostic and it is our hope and belief that Bliss Bouldering and Climbing Complex will provide opportunities for you to experience a life changing breath of fresh air, to be inspired; and that you in return, will become the next Neil Armstrong and inspire a new generation of humans to take one small step forward.
Breathe and Follow Your Bliss,