I don’t think I ever thought I’d write a blog about actually falling on a blog with “Falling” in the title. I fell a lot this past year. I fell a lot. But damn if Im not still standing.
I fell out of a marriage. I fell onto a beach in Punta Cana. I fell on a trail on my 121 mile hiking journey. I fell into a little inheritance from my Nanny that has changed the direction of my life. I fell in rank in my Beachbody gig. I fell into a rental home that symbolizes a lot. I fell in love. I fell out of a cheer coach job I loved. And last Wednesday I fell while rock climbing.
It was what you call a pendulum swing fall. Its just like what it sounds like. I fell but my belayer was not directly below me. He was quite a ways off to my left. So I swung. Like a pendulum. For what felt like 487 miles but Im guessing it was 20 feet. I rolled and bounced off of the face of the rock. The back of my head (helmet) hit the rock a few times. If I hadn’t been wearing the helmet I’d have a nasty bump, possibly a concussion now. As if on auto pilot I straightened my body out once I had my bearings and yelled up to the Dude (who was on top of the rock above me) “Ok what do I do?” I could tell he was a little concerned as to whether I’d continue climbing or say “bring me the fuck down now.” All of this was happening at Garden of the Gods with about 498 million visitors watching me. OK maybe 30 but same thing.
I’d like to say its a common fall. This particular route is prone to falls at this point. Its not the easiest climb. And for CLIMBERS what happened was common, not a big deal, a simple pendulum swing. For me- it was anything but. It scared the ever-loving shit out of me. Once I righted myself I climbed the route. All the way to the top. I knew that if I didn’t I might not climb again for awhile. I knew if I thought too much I’d stop and not be able to finish. So I climbed on. And didn’t say much about it that night.
Two days later I woke up stiff and sore and a little shaky. We were climbing that day. At a place known for tough climbs. I was so tense my neck hurt like Id been stabbed. My shoulders were sore, my head hurt, and I was scared. Not in an outward way. No one really knew. But my insides and my body were in FLIGHT mode. I climbed anyway.
I woke up yesterday so physically spent it felt like I’d been in a car wreck. And I cried and cried and cried. Its funny. When you hang around climbers you begin to think this is a normal sport. That its something everyone does all the time. That climbing 100 feet in the air and hanging by a rope over rock is routine behavior. It is NOT. 1% of the population climbs. There is nothing “normal” about this sport. Its fucking scary as fuck. Its dangerous if you aren’t careful. Its mental for sure. And physical and emotional and frustrating and can get in your head. Its also amazing and cathartic and satisfying and the scenery is unknown to anyone else and its beautiful and every time I touch an anchor I tear up.
Of course that fall was no big deal to some seasoned rock climbers. They’ve been climbing for 6, 7, 8 or more years. I’ve been climbing 6 months. I felt so ashamed of how scared and shaken I was by this event. For a day. Now I don’t. It is NOT normal to be 50 feet up on a rock swinging by a rope and banging into the side of it. Its not. And its ok for me to be spent- emotionally and physically. And its ok that it scared the fuck out of me. Its ok that I cried. And honestly- it would be ok if I chose to NEVER ever climb again……but I wont.
When my marriage ended I thought Id never give love another chance. When I fell on that 121 mile hike I wanted to quit. When I had the opportunity to move up to a mountain I almost chickened out…..because its hard. Its all hard and scary and exhausting and falling hurts. Falling hurts a lot. It hurts your body and soul and heart.
But I’ve chosen to love again. Ive chosen to chase a dream into the mountains. Ive chosen to keep hiking. Ive chosen to keep climbing. Because getting to the end of your life scar-less, with no bruises or bumps, no wrinkles, no pain….also means getting to the end of your life with no life. And that is not ok. Always give love one more chance….and always one more. Keep hiking, keep climbing, keep falling…..and keep getting up. Because it aint at all about the fall….and it feels good to know that.
Thank you 2017.