Writing your first entry is not much different than Day 1 of Rock Climbing.
It’s not even 1pm and I’ve already had too much coffee today. My hands are shaking as I try to type on this wireless dirty keyboard. It is not dirty because it is being used too much, it’s dirty because I haven’t used it enough. It’s filthy even, collecting too much New York dust.
I never thought of myself as a blogger or a writer, but I suppose this is a start. Despite my absolute insecurity, restraint, shyness, humility, reluctance (how many words can a thesaurus come up with that apply?) about sharing my writing, I have now decided to take the path of the warrior, face my fear and type on this fucking dirty keyboard. My courage comes from the faith and support of my most trusted friends in this instance, so if any of this sucks, it’s completely their fault and they owe me a case of beer for failing.
How about I start with fear. My fear of heights. That sounds good.
A friend of mine invited me to a nearby rock climbing gym last Sunday. Since I was terrified of heights, I rubbed my eyes hard and accepted. After surrendering to what I thought would be the cause of my death, I immediately screamed at myself,
“Who the fuck do you think you are? Call him back and cancel!”
The better part of me relinquished,
“I will be safe. I will not die. If children can do it, I can too. In fact, children don’t even consider death. How perfect.”
So I found myself paying the eleven dollars, renting the shoes that were a half a size larger than my actual shoe size. My toes were a little crunched inside them. I guess this is normal.
They gave me the harness. My friend Toby, a pro, climbing in loose jeans rock-n-roll patches splattered all over them, guided me on how to shimmy my way into the harness: two small loops for my legs, one big loop for my waist. Tighten the seatbelt. If I really wanna feel cool, I can attach some chalk to the back of my belt and use it when needed for a better grip, like the gymnasts do.
Toby attaches the auto belay carabiner to the front loop and locks it in. This is my life. The auto belay is responsible for my life. Children are on either sides of my wall, in crouching positions, spidering their way up and floating down. That looks like fun! Okay. I can do this.
My palms do not get sweaty. I don’t sweat when it comes to nerves. I shake. My hands and thighs shake, and I get a small annoying headache above my eyebrows, a little sharp throb. This is starting to happen. I approach the wall. Then, I step back because I don’t think I can do it. It is too high and I am going to have a heart attack.
“You can do it, you’re gonna be great.”
I look up the wall. I don’t know it’s maybe thirty to forty feet high. I start on a flat one.
“Stay with the yellows,” Toby says with a huge grin. I can see in his smile and his upright demeanor that this sport brings joy to him. His joy is contagious but I am not fully convinced. He senses my apprehension.
“How about you watch me first?”
I agree to watch. He secures himself into another auto belay and finds the purples. He climbs up peacefully and with ease, following the tiny Chicklet sized guides. He is vertical, he is crouching, his hips press into the wall, he finds his traction and moves onto the next series up. Beat beat beat, a second of rest, he looks around to find the next pellet then beat beat beat again. He continues sideways, he reaches around and anchors his body to a nearby red. Toby’s slim and muscular frame supports his climb. He finally reaches the top, which feels like less than a minute and waves at me up there while I am getting a strain in the back of my neck by looking at him touch the ceiling. I rub my neck as he floats down.
“This is the fun part!”
Fun like take me out to the ballgame fun? Because I can surely eat peanuts and cracker jacks while I watch you climb these walls for the next 2 hours.. I will stand here in my gear and pretend. At least I look cool and I look like I know what I am doing. But the kids…
“Legs. It’s all in your legs. Just go for it.”
At this point my body is shaking. I don’t understand how I can be so terrified of this. I am protected. The odds of me dying right here and now is zero percent. My mind is racing. I waddle over to the wall. I look up. Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph it is so high and I just don’t want to. This is where I think about people fighting wars, refugees, people drowning, people trapped in tight places that live for days, people that cut off limbs to escape some horrific predicament. This is where I think about the thousands of cigarettes I have smoked in my life, all of the unprotected sex I have had, why didn’t I schedule that mammogram, I need to call my mother and tell her I love her part. But reality bites. Here I am, protected, with a trusted friend, terrified out of my mind, shaking and wondering,
“Man, I have no courage. Everyone has more courage than I do.”
“You just have to tell yourself you can climb the wall and then climb the wall.”
I am embarrassed for myself. I hardly look like a human.
I walked to the yellow Hubba Bubba’s and just took a step. I was crying on the inside but fighting on the outside with a pregnant exhale. I blew on the wall and crunched my toes in a groove. I just went up with the shakes. I stared into the wall that was sharp and just a few inches from my face. This is where I have to rely on my breath. I envisioned myself floating down a passed-out limp body, not achieving half the climb, disappointing Toby, myself and all the children. Do I wanna be a limp dick? DO I really wanna be a limp dick in life? Fuck no.
But The Emmy’s were on. I needed to see who was wearing the latest Valentino.
I ended up climbing eight walls instead.
Thank you Toby. Welcome to Medium, Daniela.