I really, really hate high places. In fact, I’m such a wuss that I even get queasy going too high on the swings.
Once upon a time, when I was a wee child, I went on a field trip with my summer camp to a rock-climbing arena. We were all bouncing off the walls and waiting impatiently for our chance to climb. Soon, it was my turn and once I was strapped for safety, I began my ascent.
It wasn’t hard at first. The rock-shaped rungs were spaced liberally at the bottom, which made it easy for my small frame to hoist myself up. But, the higher I went, the more difficult it was to find rungs to latch onto. With that feeling of frustration, my fear crept in. I was very suddenly, acutely aware of how high I actually was.
Despite my fellow camp-mates and counselors cheering me on, telling me I was so close to victory, I’d had enough. With tears welling in my eyes, I in no uncertain terms told them to get me down. And, once I was on beloved terra firma (and after a bout of half-panicked, half-relieved tears), my counselor took me aside. He pointed up to the highest area of the rock-climbing wall and gently said, “All you had to do was grab that last rock. You were so close!”
I knew I was high up, but I was so blinded by the height that I didn’t register the fact I was one rung from an impressive achievement. And getting as high as I did was an achievement in and of itself.
Suffice to say, I haven’t touched a rock climbing apparatus since.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve been running away from my fears. I look back on that day every so often, and I ask myself: Am I going to let fear stop me from living? Am I scared because I’m so close to victory? How do I know when I’ve succeeded? Unlike a rock wall, sometimes the end is not visible nor tangible.
Since then, I’ve climbed boulders and mountains – literally and metaphorically. I’ve continued to push myself past my comfort zone and, with shivering hands, reached to grasp those last few rungs and pull myself up and over, where the vista is far sweeter than from the ground below.