We all have our little peculiarities. Some of us enjoy running like maniacs even though there’s no fire. Others love knitting, despite flawless garments are available in store. I myself have a weakness for climbing, although God has granted us stairs and escalators.
I take comfort in knowing that there are others besides me who, whenever they see a big tree, building or a rock wall, start fondling it, looking for the first good grips to bring them upwards. I admit that this trait connects awfully close to the missing link or even whatever came before Homo Erectus, but that can’t be helped. Every time I climb, I know I should do it more often. What’s more, I assert that to some degree every one of us is a climber.
This is not the point where I will tell you that Life is a mountain. Life is not a mountain. I know it’s a popular metaphor, but in my opinion it has flaws. The parable suggests that you start at the bottom, reach the top and then you die. Filled with wisdom about the mountain you’ve conquered and a clear view of the broader perspectives, so to speak. Well, I’ve lived for a while, too. And to my experience, Life goes a lot up and down and in the end of the day you are none the wiser. Talking to old people might confirm this: The ‘clear view’ is often a bit hazy, even from the mountain top.
But even if Life’s not a mountain, living can be a lot like climbing. Basically it’s a challenge. Naturally, there might be moments where everything seems easy, but let’s not waste our time splitting hairs: the way ahead demands a certain effort. While at it, you will be cramped, bruised and sore, and when you get really stressed or tired you also get frightened. In climbers’ term, that is called “psyche-out”, and it befalls all of us every now and then even if we’re no higher than a bed or an office chair.
A psyche-out is more than the fear of falling down. It’s when you realize that your strength is retreating and less reliable. After all, it’s not the falling that really sucks, it’s the stop. And all you got to prevent it is legs that go like sewing machine needles and a heart doing the conga. You might not have what it takes to move ahead and you see no safe, painless way back. From that worry-free little monkey that swung itself up and never looked down, you transform into one of those sorry-ass kittens stuck in a tree, waiting for the fireman.
So when the curtains open on act two, there you are. Stuck on a ledge. With a cramp spreading through your body. Sooner or later it will be dark, too. The only thing missing is somebody throwing rocks at you. This would be a definite low point had it not been that you’re so freaking high up. Whether it’s a physical grip hold, a love interest or a job that’s slipping away, one recognizes the good old feeling of impending doom. All you can think of is that you’re about to lose. And you will be right, of course. Any therapist can tell you that to imagine it is to make it happen.
Life can be tough, especially ones own. Other peoples’ life however, can be ridiculously easy viewed from a distance. So, you’re stuck on a ledge, big deal. Anyone would advise you to stop trashing around and calm down. In climbing, that is actually true. Ease up, and maybe even lean out a bit from the obstacles that tower over your head, blocking out everything else. Stretching your arms is actually less tiresome than pulling yourself towards something and it allows you to see more of your surroundings. Maybe you discover new, even better grips. After all, it’s not like you intended to cling to that ledge forever, right?
Time to practice the art of Living the Moment! Why, you’re exactly where you want to be: In the middle of it all, and on your way somewhere. The view is great, once you care to look, and perhaps the best is yet to come. If Life really was like a mountain, why hurry to get up there, sit down and die? No, it’s not about reaching the top. It’s all about the climb.
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