Welcome to the Toroidal

AKA What is all this gibberish?

In this modern age it is common knowledge that planet earth is the shape of a sphere, but to understand the somewhat nonsensical point I’m about to make, you must suspend disbelief and imagine for a minute that it is in fact not spherical at all, but toroidal.

Toroidal: to·​roi·​dal | \ tȯ-ˈrȯi-dᵊl  \ of, relating to, or shaped like a torus or toroid : doughnut-shaped

A toroidal is the technical name for the shape of a doughnut, so almost a sphere, but not quite. Now picture this: a person, perhaps about 5’11”, female, mid-twenties, maybe she has white hair, suspended in the center of the toroid. The problem however, is that this person is trapped. She floats at the center of everything, yet is tragically unable descend back to earth. It’s a double edged sword to be in center toroidal, to feel so seen yet still be alone and adrift.

This absurd imagery was a joke created by one of my best friends Eric and myself one night when we had had perhaps a bit too much to drink, or smoke, or were just a little too giddy after another brilliant day in the mountains. We were trying to craft the perfect metaphor for my personality in regards to climbing, and somehow that was what we came up with. I’d like to think there was a lot of nuance to our creation, but if memory serves the gist of it was really just about me taking my climbing way too seriously to the point that I can be on the selfish side at the crag. Let’s call it an area for growth.

Center Toroidal stuck with me, perhaps because of its novelty, or its accuracy, or maybe just the memory of the humor of coming up with it in the first place with a good friend. It makes me proud of my focus, honored that my friends want to stand beside me despite my flaws, and humbled that I should try harder to return the favor. I also simply enjoy a good self-deprecating joke.

Center Toroidal is now my third blog. The first was called Focus on your Ability, after the lyrics to a favorite song. It represented a dedicated focus to climbing, adventure, and my life during my first foray into climbing full time in 2012. My second was titled So Close Wiz, another catch phrase for my life that began to explore deeper ruminations about why I do the things I do. Wiz was a derivative of The Wizard, my college climbing nickname, which I adapted into a camp name while working at the YMCA. My boss at that job created the nickname “So Close Wiz,” because despite always having the best intentions, the results of my work were always “so close” to being right (yet never quite there). When someone you respect, like a supervisor at your first real job, describes you as always being “so close,” it has a way of sticking around in the psyche.

For many years I continued to think of myself that way in general. I was pretty good at the things I cared about (mainly climbing), but I felt like I still missed the mark more often than not when it came to really making it, in work, relationships, and yes, in climbing too.

Fast forward to spring of 2018. In the pursuit of self-growth I had temporarily moved into my car (a move which would later become permanent) to travel, climb, and escape the rainy Pacific Northwest winter season. I drive a 1999 Honda CR-V, which when you’re almost 6’ tall is a bit of a tight fit for car sleeping. Tighter still for sleeping two, but it was 4am, and he was gorgeous, and we were in Joshua Tree, and we were both way past the point of rational decision making. That night my car setup was described as “just barely enough.”

It wasn’t just the car, but it represented a lot of changes I had made over the past year and continue to make now, trying to redefine all my self-imposed limits to get out of my comfort zone and become a better version of myself. I was terrified of solo travel, of committing to climbing full time, of living in my car, of change, of all of it… but I’m out there taking a chance and making it work, even if “just barely.” It hasn’t been easy, but for all my efforts I managed to leave “so close” behind somewhere along the way. I like to think about this transition as a permanent ongoing process that will surely take me the rest of my life, but it sure feels good to have taken the first step.

This newest iteration of my stories is thusly named as it is; because I have moved on from “so close,” and am now in the era of “just barely.”

Welcome to my brain and where it lives. Welcome to the Toroidal.