Monday, January 7, 2019

Adventures in rock climbing

Fears faced, progress made & boy, do I love the ground!

If a child can do it, you can do it. 
If a child can do it, you can do it.

Welcome to my not-so-inner monologue during my first trip to Adventure Rock. For those of you just tuning in, new sports activities are not exactly — how do you say — my jam. Mini bowling made me sweat. I had to pretend I was Pocahontas during my first solo kayaking experience. Similarly, one of my best friends advised I play Mulan while scaling my first rock-climbing wall. Ahh, the things we do for love. 

After watching scads of eager kids and self-assured grown-ups methodically scurry up sky-scraping walls, it was tempting to wuss out and remain a spectator. Spoiler: I didn't. "It's just like climbing a ladder," he said. 

So I climbed that first ladder. "If a child can do it, you can do it," came my spontaneous mantra. I freaked out at the top and freaked out coming down, then planted my feet and full-body embraced the wall. "I've never loved solid ground more." 

"Do you have a fear of heights?" they asked. Who knows! When was the last time I voluntarily dangled from the ceiling? But I was willing to try again, and wall number two ended up being slightly less scary. That was the Mulan climb: Get down to business, defeat the Huns. 

Wall number three was the hardest one. Pretending wasn't an option. I got to a point where the angle tilted in such a way that I indignantly questioned the wall, "Why are you like this??" before giving up and landing plop on the ground. Maybe next time I'll conquer the top of that climb and find some other choice words for said wall. Maybe. 

My fourth and final wall was conducive to humming Rey's theme from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as I imagined myself a scavenger on Jakku. I made it to the top, descended most ungracefully (though at least I kept my eyes open this time), and was perhaps not-so-secretly thrilled to call it a day. 

"Are you going to blog about it?" friends asked. My gut reaction: Yeah right! Anyone with a love of climbing or penchant for hand-eye coordination would find my coping mechanisms ridiculous, and anyone on the fence about climbing would be wise not to take notes from me.

But I got to my car, screamed (because car screams are a beautiful thing), and realized that I do have some takeaways for anyone fearing The Climb. Pretending helped, as did the not-looking-down. Turns out, clichés like "fake it 'til you make it" and "don't look back" apply to both physical and metaphorical climbs. 

Even more helpful and shout-out-deserving were the warm, encouraging friends and strangers who nudged my inner monologue to something a little more positive. The people at Adventure Rock and the people who climb there are upbeat, optimistic types; welcoming, patient, and accepting of those who are still working through whatever fears they're toting. And wow are they ever (go with it) rock-stars. 

At the end of the day, am I going to become one of those muscle-backed climbing fiends? Uh, no. But this experience reminded me that, as we enter a new year, progress is progress. Anyone can challenge their "that's not for me" narrative by at least trying. If it takes Mulan, mantras, and friendly motivation to make that progress and find out what is and isn't for you, that's fine. Do it your way.

**Steps off soap box** 

Now, if you need me, I'll be over here nursing sore muscles and kicking myself for just realizing that "Climb Every Mountain" would have been a perfect addition to my inner soundtrack. I guess there's always next time. 

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