The answers are: yes, and, setting aside the travel destinations which are in a category of their own, rock climbing. I never, ever would have thought I'd enjoy rock climbing, much less take it up as a hobby. But that's what's happened, and though I am still certainly a novice with entirely-too-weak arms, I -- the most gear-averse person I know -- am the proud owner of my very own climbing harness and shoes, and a ten-punch pass to Petra Cliffs climbing gym.
I'm grateful to a whole slew of other past and present students who have all been climbing partners at one time or other. Below is another pre-graduation climbing night with Ryan, Josh, Nigel, Ben, Sarah L., and Sarah D., as well as a night of climbing on the SMC wall from about a month ago, when 1st-year resident and climbing buddy Maura, and I convinced Kaitlyn, Maura's RA, that the rest of the floor just had to try out rock climbing under Amanda's expert guidance..
With Jai on the wall beside me, encouraging me not to be afraid, and to trust the rope, I did my first-ever climb and I think, started off a year of challenging myself to try all kinds of new things I'd never before considered "my thing". Not all of them have hooked me as hard as rock climbing, but all of them have been great. As I've written about elsewhere, I think rock climbing is a metaphor for life in all kinds of ways. It has things to teach us about trust, about our own capacity in a difficult moment, and about the value of the other people who anchor our lives. Cliff is now working in the Sudan, and Nicole and Jai are living in Vermont for the year. Nicole and I have started getting together on Thursday nights for some climbing at Petra Cliffs, but today was the first time since our climb in Nepal that I've been on a wall with Jai. Here's a photo from that first climb together back in January, and another of Jai making it to the top (the first of six all-the-way-up climbs) this morning.