Monday, January 19, 2009


I visualize five fluid moves: left hand, right hand, left foot, right foot, and the elusive reach. I let go of a long exhale, releasing tension while shaking my arms. I reach back to my chalk bag, dusting my already sweaty hands as I approach the overhang. My right hand grips the first hold, and I feel the rough stone scraping my skin. My left hand finds its hold and takes some weight off, and my feet have positioned themselves automatically.

Now I need to move. Just move.
Move my left arm.

My left hand won't let go.

Let go.
Now.... now....

I continue to cling to the wall with both hands, berating myself for not moving when I should have. Now I've already made this more difficult than it needs to be. The longer I wait, the more I deceive myself. Although I feel relatively stable, I am wasting energy and losing strength. I must move.
Now... now...
I don't move.

What am I afraid of?

Falling. Onto a two foot thick crash pad from three feet up? Ridiculous. I've jumped out of a plane at 13,000 feet for God's sakes.

Looking ridiculous. To the other climbers, it looks much worse to cling to the wall in fear than to commit to a move and then fall. They fall all the time.

So what is the problem?
Move... Move now.

I force myself to wrench my left hand loose, but instead of pushing up, my traitorous feet have pulled back into a safe fall position, plummeting me down to the mat with an unglorious "plop."

Why? Why can't I reach and move with full abandon, committing myself to either grasping the higher hold or falling spectacularly instead of making sure I land safely?

I am committed in theory, but in practice something primal, unconscious and powerful stops me. The fear is so deep and so well-protected that I can't find it. My enemy knows that as soon as I pull it out into the open I will smite it. Endless searching in the same places tires me. I'm not ready to give up so I keep turning over the same rocks.

I am blocked on the wall and on the page.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I've never climbed a wall, but you nailed the paralysis perfectly for certain inverted yoga poses. Sometimes I just cannot locate the muscles I'm supposed to use. Sometimes I simply do not believe my body can do as told. Even when I've done the pose before, if I think about it, let myself doubt or fear it, I cannot do it. "Now straighten your leg" or "Bring your left foot up to the right" can sound impossible when I'm upside-down. If I can turn off my thoughts and trust my body and my yogi I can do it. Some days I do one pose beautifully, but cannot do another when the only change is my hands.
Try not to beat yourself up about it, it only makes the fear grow. Hope you let go of the fear and trust your muscle memory again soon.

Karen said...

Hi Dodi! I have been thinking of you while I'm devouring the Twilight books - I'm on #4 now. Saw the movie last weekend. Is #4 the last one or is the story still open for more at the end ?(don't tell me what happens - I'm not done)

Anonymous said...

Book four is the final of the series. That's the one that I read at Redbrook; it came out that week.

Anonymous said...

When you finish #4 read this post at One Good Thing:

Don't read it before you finish. There may be some spoilers, but mainly because don't want to read these hilarious critiques before you finish.

Karen said...

Thanks. As usual I'm behind the trend. I resisted reading the Twilight books because I'm generally not a fan of vampire stuff(Buffy being the one big exception)Some women at work convinced me to try and now I'm totally hooked.