When I wrote my book 1000 Climbing Tips I joked I’d stick in a bit about love, after all love and relationships have a greater bearing on all climbers than knots - but I didn’t. I joked later that I could do a book about relationships and love instead, a top tips book, but my partner at the time just laughed at me - not a good sign (but she was right to laugh). I tried to defend myself that although I was not good at either, I had made a study with my very analytical brain of everyone else’s, those that had it, those that desired it, those that lost it, those that gave it way - trying to dismantle love - work out how it worked - why we get it wrong.
My next book, The Bear Pit, is a fictional book about bouldering, which I don’t know much about, but really it’s about love and obsession - an emotional bonk-buster, but with crimps and dirty beer towels. Writing fiction is easy as most of what I write is fiction anyway, but nailing love and obsession in a way that is meaningful and un-naff will be hard I know. For it to work I’ll need to be brave enough to admit I have inhabited the mind of the characters in my book - not that easy. Just as Psychovertical was a study in one mans motivation to solo a wall, The Bear Pit will be a study in why some of us climb.
As for love - have I come to any conclusions? Here are some some randoms thoughts:
If you find ‘the right one’ you won’t want your freedom, as all you will want to do is spend every moment with them, and when forced to be apart you’ll rush back. Being in love is not a choice.
Being in love - there is no doubt or wait and see. Most people never find love, they just think they have, but by the time they realise they were wrong it’s too late - they feel too far down the line to believe they could find it (not being in love makes you old). They just settle.
Love is never running out of things to say, but happy not to speak. It’s touching as if by accident but knowing they know they’ve been touched for a reason. It’s looking forward to going to bed, not just to shag, but just to be close to that person where they don’t have to be shared.
It’s missing them when they on the other side of the world, or when you woke up on the other side of the bed.
It’s knowing that you will always come first. That if you can forgive yourself you will always be forgiven. It’s feeling lucky to be the other person’s ‘one’ (once one person gets the upper hand it’s over) and always making an effort and never taking each other for granted. It’s falling in love with their faults. You also need to know that no matter how much you love someone, love is not indestructible - so should never be taken for granted - that like anything living, if you starve it, it dies.
Lastly there are thousands of people who you can fall in love with in the world, so don’t get broken hearted or bitter by picking the wrong one.
Love is as close to heaven as we will ever get.
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Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.Follow @ Instagram