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Last night, my nieces and Kelsea and I went to the climbing gym.  Why is this a big deal for me?  Well, several reasons. 

1.  It was something I’ve never done before.
2.  I’m afraid of heights.
3.  I was afraid I couldn’t do it and would embarrass myself.
4.  I was afraid of falling.

Go ahead, call me a ‘Fraidy Cat.  I don’t care.  You know why? 

Because I went.  I did it.  And it was awesome.

The place we went is called The Spot, an indoor climbing club tucked away at the back of a semi-industrial office park at the end of a dead-end street in Boulder.  It’s not a ropes/rappelling club.  It’s all free climbing.  Every wall of this gigantic space is covered with floor-to-ceiling rock formations with footholds and handholds in various shapes and patterns affixed to them.  There are a couple of gigantic freestanding rock formations in the center of the room with the same holds.  There’s a climbing treadmill.  And there’s a tightrope about three feet off the ground.

All these men and women in amazing shape are climbing all over the place, sometimes even inverted.  They looked like insects crawling up and along the walls.  The floor is covered with padded mats, and there are some larger, squishier mats that you can move from place to place.  A little girl of about five was scrambling around like a monkey and walking the tightrope like a pro.

I started on the easy routes – and I didn’t necessarily stick to the routes.  For me, the goal was to get up the wall and down the wall.  Without falling off the wall.  Except my niece told me I had to fall off the wall.  Wait, what?  Yes, that’s right.  I had to fall off the wall.  She said if I fell off the wall intentionally, then I wouldn’t be so scared of falling off the wall.  And when I fell off the wall accidentally, I would know how to fall, and how to roll, so I didn’t get hurt.  That was the hardest part of the evening for me.  Letting go of a perfectly good wall six feet in the air and falling backwards.  I mean, who DOES that?  Oh, yeah – me.

I looked down over my shoulder at my niece, who was encouraging me to jump, and I said “No.  I can’t.” “Yes you can!” she said, ‘You can do it.”  I thought to myself, “I can do anything.”  And I let go.  And fell.  I bent my knees.  I hit the floor.  I rolled.  And I was fine.  I got up and I was so proud of myself.  And then I climbed back up the wall and did it again.

It was so much fun.  It’s a wonderful feeling to challenge yourself like that.  I really liked traversing – moving sideways across the rock face as opposed to going up.  It’s more for stamina than for skill.  I didn’t make it all the way across the big wall, but I did pretty well.

Today I am pleasantly sore.  I can really see how people get so buff doing this.  Since Kelsea loves it, we are going to go together more often.  I have to admit, it’s hard to see her hanging twelve feet in the air; I’m scared she’s going to fall and break her neck.  But I have to trust her and her own strength – and my strength.

And learn to let go.

Photo Title: Between Sea and Sky

Anegada, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: “”I don’t know where my journey will take me, but I know that my body is 60% water, and like all water everywhere, it is on an inexorable journey back to the sea.”  —  Robert Brault

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