It’s familiar, what used to be unbearable now seems to settle me, the nervousness, the anxiety, even the fear. Standing in my gear, facing the red that reaches endless to the sky, surveying my choices and warming my hands. It’s the best climbing weather, almost cold. The air is quiet and my anticipation and quickening heart rate are my heat.
I am ready.
“Climbing,” I call out.
“Climb on climber.”
I hear the report and reach out to hold my beloved. Not good enough to ever feel like I am one with the rock, we do dance; obviously, she leads and I do my best to follow. To keep moving, keep momentum, stay fluid, even if I have to back track on rare occasion.
My muscles are hot and my hands are just beginning to hurt, in a bit they’ll be numb and I will find that tranquil space, where we dance and it’s not effortless, it’s hard, but it seems natural, exhilarating and worth while. I’m not far up the face of the wall except my fear and my anxiety have vanished. Funny how in the anticipation of the climb it grows and becomes cumbersome but in the embarking, the doing, it vanishes. The energy put to better use, and I reach, following with my feet.
This is love. I can be creative, and daring. Use my body for leverage, twisting turning and thinking, contemplating and committing. This rock is no place for timid or uncommitted. I make my moves, feel confident with my choices, even get stuck, like right now. I’ve exhausted my options, I pause, pull myself close to the rock face, weight on the balls of my feet. I’m half way. It’s time for a rest and to evaluate where I am.
I know I have help on the ground, eyes and experience, I can hear their suggestions, (things always look easier on the ground). Hand-holds look bigger and closer, sometimes they are right and I can’t see it until I reach, try and leverage myself, stretch.
Halfway, for me this means my execution must be flawless, uncluttered, pure finesse. My muscles are tired, my lungs burning and my fingers are white from chalk and pressure but also because the skin is rubbed and chaffed.
Rock takes, steals the moisture from my hands, leaves them marked with cracks and callouses. There is giving too. It’s almost sacred and for every climber, slightly different. I get strength and knowledge. It’s not enough to be strong enough I need the story in my head that it can do it.
Red rock is apart from me and though I want to reach the top, it’s not for the sake of conquering, after all the rock is already at the top. I want to reach the top because it gives me a goal, makes me strong, challenges me. I want to see the view from someplace so magnificent. Yes there are easier ways, less meaningful ways. I don’t want to be safely deposited at the top, I want to hurt and ache and feel every inch of my body in blissful protest, then I want to find the top.
I want to work hard enough that all of the background noise and garbage falls away, so that the view is clear, unpolluted, and there is only one way, for me anyway.
Last time I fell. I might fall again, I’m committed to falling, to not letting go but being ejected from the face of the rock, surprised in the event, because I am so committed to my endeavor that I don’t anticipate the fall…that is what the rope is for, the gear and the ones I trust my life with at the bottom of the cliff. I will do this over and over until the sun sets or my body won’t cooperate any longer.
My fingers are squared, my hands callused my face lifted to the sky, I’ve never been so sore and never felt so good.
Life is like this, being alive should feel this way. In fact it could be a story of living and loving. Love doesn’t break just because we fall. Love is perfect, strong, supporting. Rock can crumple and people can fail but it’s not love’s fault. I don’t count my attempts at following love to the top, but I don’t let go either, don’t anticipate the fall. I’m leaping, stretching and reaching with all my heart, if I slip, I will grab on and go again and a again…