(The video gets exciting around the 58 second mark. Hold onto your panties! Oh, and that’s not me. I doubt I’ll ever have the guts to climb such a route. And ignore the awful music.)
I have been climbing for a few years now. Every moment I step up to the gray expanse of cold rock, load up a white blanket of chalk onto my hands, tie in, and look skyward, I know that somewhere along the way, I might face a heart-stopping fall. Nevertheless, I take a deep breath, grip the rock, and begin my ascent as a voice in the back of my head chants out the “don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall” mantra.
So why climb? Why even bother facing something as terrifying as free-falling for a split second? Why tease Death?
Just as people come in all shapes and sizes, they also come with different needs. Some people are contented to never face anything that scares them. I admire that. They are people who know what they like and don’t like. Honestly, I can’t say I like to be scared, that I like feeling the primal instinct to flee (or pee), that I like staring at my bedroom door all night because I just know there’s a masked serial killer behind it. But something about the spike in my pulse, the sound of blood pounding against my eardrums, and the feeling of giving up my death-grip on control does something to me.
It makes me feel alive.
Yes, alive. And I don’t mean that I enjoy challenging death. I respect life too much. I have known too many people who have faced death and lost. I will never disrespect their losses. But I like adrenalin. It tells me that yes, I’m alive and, yes, I am very much an animal.
But writing makes me feel… safe. There are no risks in it so long as I don’t share it with the world. It’s therapeutic. I could do it every day for the rest of my life and never tire of it. But there comes a time when I will climb up that proverbial writing wall and see a handhold that is too small. I know I’ll fall if I climb up to it. I know I’ll regret dismissing my fear the moment I reach for it.
But I still do it.
I’ll prepare for that gut-wrenching feeling of weightlessness. And the impending smash into the rock.
And I’ll fall.
So long as I’ve got a damn fine belayer, I’ll continue climbing once my nerves settle down. The rock will be okay. My story will be okay.
I will be okay.
So, what are you waiting for? Do something that scares you this month. I am.