I have one toe smeared on nothing and the other, where my shoe is starting to wear through, is mashed down on a paper-clip-thin nubbin–a hope and a prayer, really, are all they are while I contemplate my options: Traverse diagonally right, up the sloping ledge upon which my hands are struggling for a better grip, and sink my fingers into the vertical crack until I figure out what to do next, or fall. Fall far, on a red X4, a piece that I really only placed as a mental security blanket because (1) I’m still too new at this to run it out that far, but (2) the seam its cammed into walks the fine line between being a vaguely protectable crack and a joke.
Normally, I’d sit there and sabotage my own composure, running my fingers over the same dissatisfying options, getting too pumped, and ultimately try to downclimb to avoid the chance of a fall. And that’s on a bolted line! On the stuff that my brain knows will actually catch me.
But here I am. I’m still holding on. I don’t want to go back. I can do this.
Things shift. My inner voice is not screaming go down! anymore. It is replaced by a simple, rhythmic mantra. Everything else slips away. I am reduced to the sensation of my hands weighted on the grooves and divots of granite, my lungs taking in air, the strain in the arch of my feet.
Breathe. Move. Trust.
I lower my body weight, send electric waves of confidence from my brain into my desperate fingers, and ease out right toward the vertical fissure that will be my salvation and further from my last pitiful piece of pro.
A little over a month ago, my friend Katie and I were in the midst of a gally rally, running around the North Cascades in her VW Synchro, dreaming and scheming and enjoying a little retreat from Big City life. In between climbing and jumping into an icy-cold river, and fixing a flat tire on the side of a mountain, I asked her a pointed question:
“When was the last time you woke up in the morning and said to yourself, honestly and without prefacing, what do I want?”
We were talking about the struggle of juxtaposing the path to achieving our dreams with the trajectories of the relationships, expectations, and responsibilities we have as human beings in the communities we claim and are claimed by. I had asked myself this very question when I moved back to the US from Afghanistan, during my quest to figure out a new career. Looking back, it was a fruitful thought experiment. I’m nearly done with this BSN program and ready to launch back into the world in a way that finally promises to engage what I want both personally and professionally. There is a balance now that I lacked before. I lacked it because I didn’t know how to find it until I asked myself that question. Continue reading Seeking the right route
The end of an era has come and gone. It was bittersweet, frustrating, there were some tears and arguments, and I skinned two of my knuckles while trying to carry unwieldy, heavy boxes through a doorframe. We all moved to new places, and said goodbye to that magical, unbelievable two-year stint we had together in the house by the water. It was a lot to say goodbye to. I still find it hard to believe that much of it happened at all. But we have the visual evidence to prove it, at least. Continue reading An unlikely sailor