Sunday, February 9, 2014

New Beginnings

Considering the seven months since my last post, I find it hard to suppress the latent intimidation lurking beneath the surface of this blank canvas.  After such a long hiatus, it is difficult re-approach that creative helm, knowing I bare my life in such an accessible digital universe.  Somehow, I perceive the sum of my experiences have amalgamated into a homogenous mishmash.  Likely, this is because so much has happened since my last post, and I’m nervous that my words might spin into a torrent of gratuitous and mundane drivel.  Much happened in 2013; and I suppose it is only logical to start with a low point, its malignant shadow still manifest, but growing dimmer with every setting of that magnificent fiery orb, which ironically, we’ve seen a lot of here this January. 

As I vividly recall, 2013 commenced loud and clear as my MCL ripped apart while working a deep drop knee on Migrana Profunda, a sport route in Suirana Spain.  Following two months of standard protocols including the entire arsenal of HIRICE and bracing, my doc cleared me to resume physical operations, and my normal active lifestyle.  Within a week I began trail running again in the 3 to 7 mile range; which in hindsight, might have been too much too soon.  At the time, we had moved into a apartment near downtown Issaquah and were situated at the doorstep to miles of excellent trails up on Tiger, Squak and Cougar Mountain.  Things were starting to click and it felt exhilarating to be exercising.  The MCL area was a bit tender still, but tightening up bit by bit.  Honestly, I was so enthusiastic to be mobile again, that I consciously chose to obfuscate that incipient yet growing twinge under my knee-cap, which in recent past had immobilized me for several months.

To bring this to a head, I went out for alacritous six mile trail run on Tiger, including a quad-pounding decent and found myself limping home, writhing in sea of self-pity, dejection and palpable trepidation.  Now, I could digress into the gory medical details that include MRI findings and other depressing diagnostics, but I'll spare you, the reader.  I’ve known for years that my left patella tracked laterally, that my VMO is the size of a raisin, and that my IT band is tighter than a taught slack-line.  But, when you’re an athlete and everything seems to be working fine, it is more convenient to believe that performance and body function are immutable qualities. 

Much as Neo in the Matrix, I’ve been caught in a Dreamworld.  In my dreams, my body moves like it did 20 years ago when I began climbing at 18.  From my minds perspective, I am the same person, infused with similar vigor, and a desire to trump my own best.  Each day I get up to embrace challenge with renewed strength; and am motivated by a redoubtable will to seek the boundaries of my abilities.  These strengths (or foibles) are intrinsic to my personality.  However, I have changed.  Or, closer to the truth, I have adapted to new parameters.

Like the aftermath of a bucket of ice cold Gatorade poured ignominiously over my head, my eyes are shockingly open now.  Undoubtedly, I have sobered up to the reality that time unravels all, and that I must temper my innate penchant for performance with a circumspection for self preservation, keeping one hand on the throttle, but another prudently around the brake.

During the last 10 months, I’ve worked assiduously towards correcting my patellar tracking problem.  Typically, I spend 2-5 hours a week engaged in specific exercises to strengthen hip flexors, adductors, abductors, VMO and the like.  It is a slow road rife with inherent uncertainty.  But to my benefit, the curve has mostly been a positive one, with occasional episodes of regression.  But now, I’d say I’m 75% back to normal and stoked to put this chapter to rest.

Aside from the knee debacle, there are a few other noteworthy life developments.  Last summer after taking the GRE, I applied for grad school!  It was an onerous process.  But, after a few weeks of drudgery, I managed to apply to four different Doctor of Physical Therapy Programs, two in state, and two out.  I’ve been accepted to one program already, and am currently waiting to hear back from three others.  It is mind-boggling just how competitive PT schools are.  There were almost 1200 applicants for the school I just got into, with 80 student slots available.  --- After spending most of my life working a farrago of jobs including acting, outdoor retail, wilderness instructor, ski patroller, photographer, and carpenter, I’m convinced this will be the last suit I’ll ever wear; and I’m incredibly psyched to know this is really happening.  Many thanks to Mom, Dad, and my supportive wife Tiffany for inspiring me to stick with it. 

Far and away the most significant change in my life recently occurred on July 3rd.  It was on this auspicious day that Tiffany Dawn Gilkison gave birth to our daughter Hazel Sierra Gilkison, just over 7 pounds.  She has been an unequivocal source of joy and recrudescence in our lives.  Hazel is now 7 months old, and rolling all over the place. Soon she will be crawling...  It has been my responsibility and pleasure to be a full time stay at home dad for the last four months.  To be fair, some days are harder than others.  But, I wouldn’t trade this for anything.   Our time is especially precious because I’m about to head into an intensive and time consuming graduate program.

Lastly, the skiing/climbing shop I’ve worked at sporadically over the last 14 years, Marmot Mountain Works, is officially going out of business March 2nd.  This place offered me one of my first out of college jobs and it will be missed.  I’ve met a lot of great people over the years here, and many adventures started right in that dark old basement.  Au revoir Marmot dungeon.