I remember the first time I went rock climbing...I really didn't know what I was getting into. My girlfriend was dating a climber, and she wanted me to go with her on her first climb. Why not? It seemed like a good way to spend a summer Saturday.
Climbing up the rock face was easy, easier then I thought it would be. My entire focus was on looking up, on listening to my guide as he directed me to my next hand or foothold. I had a guide and I was roped up, so even if I fell, I would be caught.
Reaching the top of the cliff was a triumph. I'd made it. Top of the world. I was a little wobbly from the climb but exhilarated by the height, by the experience. We rested.
Too soon it was time to go back down, and we had to move quickly. There was a storm moving in, and by the look of the black char on the nearby rock ridge, lightening strikes were common.
My guide hooked me back into my harness and then I realized exactly what he expected me to do next. I was supposed to step backwards – over the edge of the cliff and walk down, perpendicular, to the wall. I froze. Step backwards? Over the cliff? Walk perpendicular to the wall? Seriously? Did I mention I have a fear of falling? Sure I was harnessed, but seriously?
My guide was great; he didn’t get angry or short with me. He gently talked me through my fear. I called “on belay,” and stepped over the cliff, one step at a time.
Once I’d cleared the edge, secure in my harness, and standing on the cliff wall I began to walk down. Halfway down my guide called out for me to let go and just fall. “I’ve got you,” he said.
So I did. Let go.
The harness, the rope, held me in the air and I was lowered to the ground.
I’ve been thinking a lot, about letting go, about the kind of courage it takes to let go…especially if you don’t know what is going to happen when you do. Let go. Recalling my rock climbing experience is useful as a reminder of how letting go can work.
Letting go is scary. Get a good guide. Someone who knows what they’re doing, someone you trust, someone who will catch you if you fall. Trust yourself; trust your guide, and your preparations. You may fall, you may even get banged up (a little)…but you’ll survive and you’ll have a story to tell.
Reaching your goal (top of the mountain) is obtainable, even easy, if you trust your guide, keep your eye on the goal, and are prepared.
Have a dream, believe the dream, receive the dream.
Wouldn’t you rather risk a fall, risk it all, to live life to the fullest?
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