Muscles straining… A sudden assault of dizziness- quickly conquered by the fierce joy of doing it. As the people below begin to shrink and shrivel in the haze reflected from the sun baked earth, so too do the burdens of daily life. Stress like soldiers slayed alongside calories, liquefying and running out with the rivulets of sweat beginning to collect between my breasts and underarms.
The rock cares nothing for my resume, my bra size, who I know or what I do. The rock tests me more thoroughly than any Hollywood hawk. Who are you? What are you made of? There is no bullshitting allowed here. You make it or you don’t. You survive or you don’t. In a world full of Sunday Christian-November radical-Holiday charity grays, the stark black and white of this world is bracing and solid. The blisters on my hands are reassuring. The ache in my calves... Welcome.
I am rock-climbing in Central America, a steep cliff-face in Panama that stopped me as we drove past with the challenge of its false juts and dead end ledges. We were filming outside the picturesque township of Boquete when a man spider-scrambling without aid of rope or harness arrested my attention.
On a whim I stopped the car to watch this extraordinary feat. Like a lover caressing the rock’s face, his speed and skill was beautiful to behold. Upon returning to earth he greeted me in English with the surprising invitation to try it for myself.
Laughing at my expression he pointed out the rope and harness coiled on the ground. On impulse, I agreed, strapped in, and began the ascent.
Laboring after many false starts and near-slips I looked down to see the ground gradually begin to recede. I'll resist the urge to insert a cheesy comparison here between the struggles to reach the goal, the top, in a climb and in life, but while I'll spare you the analogy I do want to leave you with this encouragement...
The next time you are presented with the opportunity to challenge yourself - Take It. Every time. Every challenge accepted, regardless of the outcome, adds new depth to your awareness of yourself and your own capabilities, strengthening the makeup of your character through confidence.
I particularly love challenges like this that bridge the physical, mental, and emotional set amongst Nature. She is an uncompromising mistress who truly doesn’t care how much you make in a year or what your in-laws think of you. She just wants to know “Can you do it?” And I think, with a little effort, you can.