Book Review: The Push: A Climber’s Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond Limits by Tommy Caldwell

I have always found reviewing biographies hard, as people have a right to portray themselves as they want. Still and all, reading a polished version of someone’s life always feels off. There’s no way you survive here on Earth without bruises and cuts. So I was glad that Caldwell was willing to lay out his life and experiences, the good and the bad. He is a fascinating climber, having done some of the world’s first ascents, and he is so humble about it. It took a long time public to notice what he had actually done. He never made a number of himself. He is one of those people who are dedicated to their craft and wants to exceed his limits. I admire people like that. Those who push past the nasty things like losing his finger and being taken as a hostage. Those two incidents could have filled an entire book, but they were just a mention in the book. Important ones, though.

This book is not only about climbing and what it takes to be a climber. This is a personal story, with sorrowful things and raw emotions. What spoke to me most was how Caldwell described his first wife’s mentality towards life and climbing. How she trained and pushed herself and never was actually satisfied with anything, not even doing the impossible and being the first one who did that. It stopped me. There was clearly someone who didn’t enjoy the process like Caldwell did. Of course, the depiction is one-sided and should be taken as such, but I felt sorry for Beth, his first wife, as I read the book. Maybe it was because I recognized something in her that was in me too. Need to push and achieve, sometimes forgetting the process itself. This is something I take away from the book. I want to enjoy the process as a climber: training, single route and the movements in it, and solving the puzzle of how my body bends to them. If you have ever climbed, the sense of flow when things go just perfectly is a feeling like no other. But so is the one when you get beaten, and you want to go back determined to figure out what you are doing wrong.

I enjoyed the book enormously. It is raw and emotional, and it feels honest. Tommy Caldwell also seems like a decent human being.

Thank you for reading. Have a beautiful day!

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