Monday, June 4, 2012

It's All About The Journey

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to go rock climbing with two of my girls, several of their friends, and my nephew. The cliff face we chose to climb was in shadow from the sun after 4pm, and the hike up wasn't terrible. I wouldn't want to do the hike in sandals, like some of the moms did, but that part of the journey was relatively easy.

Life is kind of like that, isn't it? When we start off on our quests, the road is flat or has a gentle upward or downward slope. We don't hit the big bumps or obstacles until we've traveled for a bit. But it's usually the obstacles and the bumps that determine the course of our journey. There's never a straight line from point A to point B.

In the case of the girls and boys climbing the rock face, that rock was the obstacle they had knowingly come to face. They had to wait their turns to get into the ropes, they had to learn the safety checks, the communication terms, and most of all, they had to overcome their own personal fears. When climbing the rock face, there is a certain amount of trust that must be given to the person on belay. You trust that they will not let you fall, you trust that they will help pick up the slack in the rope so you can continue to climb safely, and you trust that they will support you in getting down as well as they did in climbing up.

Three of the kids who climbed the rock face made it to the top. Two made it *almost* there, getting to the smooth rock face about five feet from the chains holding the ropes and finding themselves unable to reach or see any new footholds or hand holds to climb further up. And three of the kids made it about half-way up the rock face. Halfway up is about fifteen feet. And when you're twelve and barely five feet tall, that's pretty high.

In each case, the journey was not about who could make it to the top or how fast they could get there. The journey was about having the courage to put on the harness and trusting their bodies to be able to climb, if only a few feet. Each of the kids set a goal of a point they wanted to try to reach on the wall. All of them made and surpassed their goals on that rock face, one making it all the way to the top when she had been sure she would only be able to make it halfway.

Life takes courage. Sometimes we don't think we can accomplish something, and decide to give up. And sometimes all it takes is being able to sit back in the ropes and looking at the landscape to see if there are any other footholds or handholds that we can jump to or move to. Sometimes we've reached a point where our arms and leg muscles have done all the work they can do, and after resting a moment at the peak we've reached, we look around and feel a great sense of accomplishment and find that we are ready for the rapell down. And sometimes after climbing and reaching our first goal, we decide we want to try it again, and see what new things we have learned.

I am immensely proud of all the kids that came with us on our rock climbing adventure. They did awesome. Some overcame a fear of heights with their first step on the rock. Some forgot their fear until they hit the halfway mark, when it came crashing back into them with paralyzing force. The amount of courage that it takes to face and overcome a fear is more powerful than any other force on earth, which is why I say that I am super proud of the girls and their attempts on the rock. Every step and pull upwards they made was an achievement. And for some, the rapell down was an even bigger achievement.

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