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.
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.
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.