I recently went rock climbing for the first time and I realized something: rock climbing is like a metaphor for life.
You have to think ahead, try to find the most secure path to get to the top. You may stumble. You may slip. You may cling for dear life. You can fall. But, unlike real life, you don’t have a safety harness.
Life doesn’t give you safety harnesses.
And in life, as with rock climbing, despite how much you look ahead, you find that you still sometimes have to look back, because where you’ve been can also dictate where you go. And for all the planning ahead, that looking ahead, which rung you choose to pull yourself up can be the one that gets you where you want to go or could set you on a more difficult path. Doesn’t mean you won’t get to the top, but it could be more challenging.
And it may not work the first time, or the second, or third, but there comes a point when you really want to fucking get there. My get there moment was my third attempt to climb up when I knew my two children were gazing up at me, expectant looks upon their face. I had already scaled the wall successfully and my arms were shaking, no doubt from successfully climbing the wall earlier and my gym workout hours before. My arms were shaking like the leaves on a tree in a gentle breeze. The sun was peeking out from behind billowy white cotton ball clouds, the scent of rain lingered in the air. I pushed onward and upward, determined to succeed; for my children, for myself. And a little bit for all the Moms down below, who were encouraging me with wide smiles and hand claps.
It’s a wondrous feeling when you make it to the top, when you reach your goal. When rock climbing, you literally see things from a different perspective. I didn’t realize just how high up was the wall. And maybe it’s better that I didn’t, because if I knew how far I had to go, would I have been so inclined to try? One of the Moms went up there and, once she made it to the top, she looked down and suddenly realized, “Oh my God. I’m afraid of heights!” She didn’t know until that moment. Until she was IN the moment. Had she known before the climb the height of the wall, I doubt she would have made the attempt.
But having made it up to the top, you see things differently, and that, in turn, makes you feel differently. I was proud, excited, happy. Happy my children saw me struggle and shake, but I persevered made it, even after having fallen the first attempt, barely making it halfway. That’s what actually made the success rate sweeter, the very fact that I failed.
I think that’s just how life works. You have bad times that make you appreciate the good. Sadness makes you appreciate gladness. Loneliness makes you appreciate a friend. Rain makes you appreciate sunshine. And then of course the beautiful rainbows that come forth when the two combine: breathtaking.
Kind of like scaling a wall.