Last night, my friend Steve from HOPE International convinced me to go rock climbing. As I’ve written before, I’m quite afraid of heights, but persist in making that a non-issue when it comes to adventurous things: San Pedro Lake Atitlan
I had only attempted rock climbing, on a real rock wall once before in Richmond, and I’ll say that a rock climbing wall is much easier. And still pretty frightening. Our Peruvian teacher insisted we do some stretching and practice on the smaller wall with the huge crash pad. After about 5 minutes I felt like I had already exhausted my arms. How was I going to do the wall?
I feel like my own advice applies here, Just Press Call, and when Andre passed the rope thru my harness he said, “Alright, don’t think. Just do it.” For some reason, I just did it. I just climbed up. Like a kid on a tree in the backyard. Up, up, up.
Then, of course, it gets harder. It gets really hard. Especially, when you look down. I yelled to Andre, “Ahhh! I’m so high up.” He yells back, “Well, don’t look down!”
It’s funny how simple all of it can be. And maybe that’s my favorite part about rock climbing. It’s when you don’t think you can, you just try. It’s when you think you’re going to fall, and you press in toward the wall. It’s when your hand is slipping and you don’t think you can hold on, and people encourage you to reach higher.
You reach higher.
And you find a handhold.
Just when you thought you couldn’t go any further, you find something to grab onto.
At least five times last night I found myself in this situation: my fear of heights starts to wash over me. My hands sweat, to help me grip, but seem like they were going to let me go. My forearms burn with exhaustion. For a moment, I freak out. I wonder what if I fall the 25 feet to the floor. How painful that would be. How long it would take to recover, if I ever recovered. But the crazy thing is, when I feel a point a way from falling, I know I won’t fall. So, all arguments to the contrary are invalid. The only rational thing to do is reach higher.
I made it each of the five times. It’s a terrible feeling thinking you’ll fall, but it’s so wonderful when you get just a bit higher.
I’m going to do it again.