I don’t like heights, not at all.
In my mind if you are firmly planted to the ground it is damn near impossible to fall to your death, no that only happens when you are way up high and why in the world would I do that? This has been my opinion on the matter for as long as I can remember, having no idea where I got this fear from it seemed all to logical to me, so imagine my surprise when a few months ago my Wife asked me to try indoor climbing.
The whole notion seemed crazy to me. Why would I put myself in a situation that I have believed for as long as I could remember to be life threatening? Because my friends, when you have someone you love who loves you very much and believes in you you end up doing crazy things you wouldn’t normally expect of yourself.
I went to a climbing session at my local climbing gym thinking if I tried it and hated it at least I had tried, I mean there aren’t daily articles in the paper chronicling frequent deaths while indoor climbing, so maybe I’d be alright…fast forward to me being suspended half way up my first wall, “this is so stupid, what the hell am I doing here? I hate this” I whisper to myself as I beg to be lowered down. This is exactly the situation I feared and hoped I would never find myself in, but then something strange happened in my brain.
Once I knew I was back on the ground I started thinking “I mean that was terrible but was it THAT terrible? I’d better try another wall to see if I REALLY hate this”, now to be fair the instructors were super helpful and kept informing me of the safety mechanisms and physics behind climbing which helped believe me.
Moving swiftly through my embarrassing attempts to climb up vertical walls whilst clinging awkwardly to anything I can grasp a revelation occurs, you see if you learn to trust and I really mean trust amazing things can happen, once I did I actually started to enjoy this climbing lark.
There are so many complexities to it, its mentally challenging as well as physical, you don’t have to be super fit to give it a try and the feeling you get when you actually push through and get higher that you first conceived is amazing. My mind was coming to a startling conclusion…this is actually fun.
I emphasise trust once again as it was the key to me letting go of my fear and embracing the fun and challenging nature of climbing. Once I knew how much the ropes could hold and the physics of the belay and was aware of the watchful eyes of the instructor I started to relax, knowing the only likely way for me to fall or get injured was if I screwed up, which I wasn’t going to if I was vigilant. Once I started to accept these truths I started to fall in love with climbing.
On to the present day, I am now registered as a competent climber at my local gym and a monthly membership, climbing twice a week with all my own gear.
The lesson I learned I guess is you don’t always have to face your fears head on, it could be that sneaking up on them is the best solution for you. Dipping your toes into the pool instead of dive bombing right in. We are all unique and take to things in different ways, it worked for me and I’d seriously recommend getting out of your comfort zone and giving things a go, however silly the idea may seem initially.
Oh and definitely give climbing a go, its awesome.