Caution: Naughty language ahead.
Every muscle in my body shakes as I contemplate the idea of moving my left foot from its current placement, to the millimeter thick edge of rock mere inches from where I stand.
I suck in air. “Fuck.”
Will it grip?
Why the fuck aren’t there any feet?
What the fuck is this place?
I hear my friend Leah on her route 30 feet to the right muttering similar obscenities. “Welcome to Joshua tree,” I think to myself.
My hands are strong on their holds. I’m stable. Yet my calves continue to bounce ferociously. “Trust your feet, Gab!” I hear from 50 feet below, although I don’t look down.
All I know is this next move.
I direct my mind to spring my limbs into action.
Nothing. Just more cursing and the feeling of strain now surging through my shoulders. “Just do it,” I say to myself under my breath.
This is the battle of climbing. It’s comprised of convincing myself to do a series of mostly terrifying moves over and over again, until I reach the top of a towering route, where triumph greets me wide-eyed and smiling once more. It’s the same thing every time. I meet triumph, star struck by its awesomeness, and go on as if it were the first time the two of us have ever met.
But then we get to talking, as talking goes, and realize that we saw each other just two weeks prior. “Remember?” it asks, “you were quaking in your boots on that 5.10 in Frustration Creek, especially on that crimpy face just before the anchor.”
I smile as it all comes back. “That’s right.”
There is something about climbing that translates so gracefully into everyday life.
My to-do list at work is a full page in length. Final projects for grad school are in need of increased attention in the next few weeks and the idea of such a busy schedule grips at my chest. But then, I think back to those climbs. What are they really made of if not a multitude of tiny tasks? Granted, some tasks on the wall are larger than others, some more pronounced, some unexpected, and some seem insurmountable. Those are the most fun—the ones that make me ask my belay to lower me because I don’t think I can do it. But then, somehow, after resting for a bit and feeling around for an untapped solution, I figure it out.
And so the climb continues.
Bit by bit.
Breath by breath.
That to-do list is just another route, isn’t it? Those assignments, just another series of movements. And in the end, I stand on top of the rock basking in the view below, thinking, how lucky am I to know this quality of life.
Until the next thing I know, I’m driving home, with the desert landscape drifting further and further away in the rear view mirror.
It all passes too quickly.
Gazing out the window, exhausted but invigorated in spirit, my only concern being the next time I return to the rock— calves shaking and all.
Author: Gabriela Juliano
Volunteer Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Travis May
Photo: Adam Kubalica / Flickr