Intro: this is more than just a film. It changed me… I am so grateful. November 6-13, 2013
Night after night as the campfire smoke melded our crew’s laughter into one I began see Marie-Claud. I watched the determination she climbed with, the unspoken “don’t feel sorry for me” that reeked every time she felt catered to. Come on MC, you can do it… “of course I can” she would say. It was no lack of humility that drove her, it seemed to be a knowledge that she had beaten worse odds and this V4 at Horse Pens 40 would be nothing in comparison. Her hands were surprisingly like mine, a little swollen at the knuckles and long and strong. She had no problem holding a crimp or a heartfelt conversation in english. We were on camera most of the time we got to speak to each other. We watched each other, like hunters being hunted. I can normally tell when I am in danger, albeit instinct or otherwise I usually know. With MC it was hard to tell. I am not saying being closer than 6ft away is okay with all CF’s but I remember the first time she touched me was in the Ten Pens area at Horse Pens. I saw her coming for my finger as she asked me if my fingernails were clubbed as many CF’s are. Mine are kinda clubbed I guess; then she touched my finger between her thumb and index. The thought that ran through my mind was that part of Kung Foo Panda when Po grabbed Tai Lung’s finger in the Wuxi finger hold and a shock wave went trough the whole village defeating Tai Lung. Ha. lung, yes..the irony was not lost on me. Aneway I was stunned, then I survived. Even more than that…I flourished. The first morning I was there I had had a sore throat, obviously MC’s bugs had crawled their way into my cabin and choked me. Or not… the weather change here can be vicious. Our mind has always been the difference in victory and defeat. There are so many variables between germs and genetics that haunted me it was shocking to see them fade in a matter of minutes. That happened our second day there, it was pivotal. We kept our distance still but my heart changed. It was not fear that filled the gap between us but respect. It turns out the things I would learn from my wise little friend could be further emphasized by not touching. We were close enough already through our friends we shared. I can say that and mean it. We shared them. They loved and welcomed her as if a missing link of me. I loved them even more because of the way they could make her laugh and then hold her for me. It was a wild thing to remind our team we’d only known each other a few days. Our naked hearts on the table and everyone giving their gift. This is what turned out to be contagious. Ben, Gustavo and Mike were constantly capturing priceless moments. Bird’s endless good vibes and hearty laugh mixed so well with Keela, Kacey. Theirs was a song I never tire of. The campfire music each night that rang from the strings of Drew’s guitar and Damian’s Banjo danced through the smoke and drifted through the boulder fields. I watched Drew interpret a scene. The fire flared from fall leaves giving light to his work. He pressed paint from a tube and dabbed it with long thin bristles bound to a stick by a brass crimp. It was as if i’d never seen someone paint before. The whole thing was so honest and magical. We are story tellers and gift givers. It was a fellowship of breath and movement. And yes we climbed rocks… lots of rocks:)
We climbed… we did not project or obsess. We move our bodies over boulders choosing the hardest path we could find to prove our strength. That is all. We cunningly plot to stick to a rock, using fingers and toes. Even at our bodies best- we still fight that love/hate force of gravity. So strong as to bend rays of light yet it allows a soap bubble to float on just as I intend to. To move… with the maddening pace of our planet and the 1,000 miles an hour we spin on our axis while orbiting the sun at 18.6 miles a second. I’m lucky to even stand, it’s only the constant pace that allows life at all. The determination to keep moving, don’t stop…crank, mantle, stand…send. To hold a round smooth boulder as big as a house in your arms… it’s like a universe between your fingers. What does Atlas do when the weight of the world is too much? He shrugs.
Anthem: this is it. Sculpture inspired by adventure. This is our moment. The goonies and Chester Copperpot would have been proud by the way we seized the day as those dead poets before us in a society of breath and determination. Determined to give life, to give meaning. Chest fulls of air filled a molten vessel of glass that was rolled in the color by experienced hands. Blown further into a coil of copper ribs then massaged into place until the piece was one. Confined but protected, defined but unknown. A fragile expression of breath held with the softest touch- backboned by an unbreakable spirit. That is my gift to my friend. It’s called Anthem:Contact.
To my friend Ben Smith: your courage makes it easy to stand beside you. Like a mountain protecting others from wind you carry the gear and the burden of proof that “this is why we do it”. The nucleus of our operation and humble director of the sound and fury that will become a film signifying love.
BackStory: In the early spring of 2013 I was at Horse Pens 40 bouldering with friends. I was doing a breathing treatment by myself in my truck. I was kinda miserable on a cold morning and a little perturbed at my body in rebellion. An aquantanc walked up and put out his cigarette and asked if I was doing a breathing treatment. I didn’t feel like talking and had mixed emotions when Drew walked by and said oh yeah he has Cystic Fibrosis. This started a wild conversation about a french Canadian ex-girlfriend he had that was a climber and had CF. I realize now it’s crazy but I had long since decided there were no other CF climbers out there. I’ve traveled all over climbing and never seen another nebulizer much less heard of anyone! That morning to hear someone else.. a girl at that struggled here as I do now to climb and breathe… well it gave me comfort. More than that I had to tell someone. I called Ben Smith and he immediately said we have to film it. The story is beautiful, don’t get to know each other too much cause he wanted to film it. What an unusual request. Within a few days Marie- Claud had found me on Facebook and we were messaging. I soon told her of our infant dream of Ben filming this and she was willing. I remember her saying; this is important to you isn’t it. We talked every now and then just to check on each other and ask questions. She was my first CF friend. I knew our bacteria could hurt each other and remembered the days when they would sent all the CF kids to camp and found out lair we are contaminating each other. Talk about irony, hey kids do your treatments and take your enzymes with each other at camp. Now our nurses have to wear gowns and masks to keep germ transfer between rooms down in the hospital. How would we ever do this successfully? Hope I don’t fall in love with her, this could be tragic in a million ways. How nerve racking. The months passed as we waited for good climbing temps. Wild adventures that summer complicated my relationship with Canada (See:Road to Squamish Film) and it seemed even more crazy to import a french Canadian CF girl to climb. I am so happy it worked out. Even cooler that we sat and watched Damian play in the same spot that our mutual friend Justin had told me about MC. It’s just so wild that it all came to fruition. Full circle really… amazing. To fully understand this madness I guess you’ll have to wait for the film. For now I am calling git “Anthem 1076”. As in- En route to… Freedom