Climbing walls teaches me about taking risks and having fun doing it.
A few weeks ago, on a whim, I visited the wall climbing class at our local Y.
I found a small group of avid, enthusiastic climbers. Before long, I found myself strapped into a climbing harness and scrambling up a wall.
It’s exhilarating. Exciting. Exhausting!! After two days of climbing, my hands and forearms feel like jello. No, scratch that. Jello bounces. Let’s make that limp, cooked spaghetti.
Here’s my big breakthrough moment while climbing the walls:
It’s okay to fall.
I obsessed at first about picking “safe” holds, making sure my feet were firmly planted before I made my next move. When I couldn’t find the next spot to move to, I’d panic. I worried I wasn’t making good decisions.
Was I doing it right??
I was terrified to fall.
But my coach finally convinced me it’s okay to fall. “Everyone falls!” she exclaimed. (She’s 65, by the way, and would look better in a bikini than most 20-year-olds I know.)
In fact, you SHOULD fall. When you get to a tricky bit, try a little jump up. Try a hold you’re not sure of. Reach. Leap. Go for it.
Because—and this is important:
You’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
Because the point of climbing, oddly enough, is NOT to avoid falling. It’s simply to get to the top–any way you can.
You can dash up, you can scramble, you can go slow and stop and rest. You can go up sideways, you can stretch off to one side. You can even just jam your foot against the wall, and push off against that. If you’re stuck, you can simply decide to take a little leap of faith. Take that big step up and lunge for that handhold you’re sure is just out of reach….
Because even if you peel away from the wall, you are perfectly safe.
You’re in your harness, your spotter has a rope on you, and you’re not going anywhere until you say you want to come down. (Which is pretty darn fun, too!)
As I went up the wall for the third day today, I actually felt my brain unlocking.
I thought of that saying: “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”
Because when it comes to taking chances with our climbs, with our ambition, with our art, failing does not kill you.
Oh, your pride may be ruffled a little. And I’m sure there are some nasty souls somewhere who will take pleasure in your little downfall.
But I would rather focus on those enthusiastic voices below, the ones who are taking real joy in your efforts. The ones who really want to see you make it, all the way to the top.
And the rewards are so great.
“Beautiful climb! Good job! You made it!”