Monday, June 25, 2007

The Climb of My Life... so far :p

Had an experience of a lifetime during the last Independence Day holiday, June 11. For me it might very well be a once in a lifetime experience because I'm not sure if it's something i'd be doing again ever... or in the near future at least.

I tried wall climbing once, which was at the UP fair. That time, it was an exhilarating experience to reach the top on my second try. More so, this time, having been able to reach the top on my first try – not without any slipping and swinging action though.

Yup, I slipped and swung, a bit like a pendulum. Fortunately I was able to gather my wits not to let my head swing about while I swung back & forth the side of that mountain. I just kept my head still and let my poor bare arms just hit the wall.

Later did I realize that I still wasn’t halfway through the climb when that happened. At that point, I got a bit rattled and though that it must be time for me to rappel down. Yet my friends kept cheering me on. They were yelling at me to just relax and take my time. Ironically, it’s in these situations when one can or have to yell to get someone to relax. I was wondering how bad my ‘fall’ was. When I looked down the first expression I sought was that of my JB. Surprisingly, instead of a worried expression, what I saw on him was a reassuring look. He too coached me to relax and take my time. I was comforted even with him and all the others so far down.

I’d say the climb, for me was such a test of will power! I knew I’m not extremely fit, meaning I tend to tire easily now. I also wasn’t as confident about how strong my legs were to support me throughout the climb. I knew climbing isn’t all about power. You should also use your head to know which path to take to the top. Honestly, there was a point where I even doubted if I was even smart enough to reach the top, because the surface was quite difficult to scale with some parts seeming practically crevice-less or ‘ridge-less’. It did cross my mind to think about what could be more embarrassing, to not be able to reach the top because I’m not powerful enough or I’m not ‘smart’ enough to know which areas to cling to. Especially after having seen everybody else who has gone before me reach the top – most of whom have the same rock climbing experience as I (meaning co-first timersJ).

Aside from some smarts and actual power, this was also a moment when I was really able to use will power to overcome the obstacle before me. In spite of fears of not being strong enough or smart enough, I was determined to reach the top. There’s a fear of slipping which could happen by accident (as what happened) or when you give in to your ‘weakness’. But I felt that I just had to do it one stride at a time. I had to manage my fear and power (what’s left of it) to get to the top. It came to the point that I would count to three to psych myself each time I try to grab on to the next rock or crevice and push myself up to stand to go higher. In the midst of the cheers, which reassured me, I too had to cheer myself on.
As much as I’m open to adventures of this kind, I realize I do have a fear of heights, more of a fear of inclined areas, maybe. I think it’s due to an overactive imagination. There were parts of the activities where I practically froze because of fear. On was before climbing up a steep rocky slope (which was not an activity btw, but just a pathway to our base camp!) or letting go of the bridge railing so that I can slide down a rope (sorry, I don’t know what that’s called J).

The slope was steep and narrow, with vines and loose rocks. I was able to get down the slope nervously but carefully. But when I had to climb back up the slope, I think I spent a good 3 to 5 mins just staring at the rocks. I was imagining how if I stepped on unstable loose rocks I could easily slide down and who knows what could happen with all those rocks around. Eventually I was able to climb the slope. JB just showed me which areas I could latch on to get up the slope then followed close behind me.

One highlight for me, though, was when it rained! For some it wasn’t so wonderful that it rained because it means they weren’t able to have their turn to climb anymore. It would be too dangerous to climb by then. But what was so wonderful about the rain was to be soaked in it amidst such nature.

I loved the climb experience! It was a scary yet wonderful nature experience. I really felt like I ‘bonded’ with those rocks for a moment. Scaling the face of that mountain groping for crevices and ledges to rely on was like feeling the face of a person with your eyes closed. Imagine, climbing the face of a mountain with the soft breeze enveloping you as the gush of the river resonates in the background, not to mention the beauty of the nature all around.

** As I was writing about my climb experience earlier on, I can’t help but notice how my rock climbing experience could have similarities with climbing the corporate ladder, or pursuing a career, then again, it may be likened to life in general.

It’s a huge obstacle we’re faced with each day. We have our fears, we have our weaknesses, we have those times when we slip and fall. But our goal is to reach the top. Whatever happens, we have the choice to continue or to move on to the top. But there are people around us who cheer us on, who reassures us when we fall, people who may not be right beside us to feed us with what to do, but they’re there nonetheless to coach us, support us & inspire us. But a lot of the work also has to come from us. When we are faced with our own weaknesses, with our own fears, we will need our determination to keep going forward to keep going on. Things around us may weaken us, but it’s what inside us that will make us stronger. You know yourself. You will know how to pace yourself. You will know how to manage your strengths and weaknesses. You will know when to make the right timing.

But there’s something I wasn’t able to say earlier on about what else helped me reach the top. I had a harness on with a rope for belaying me. I realized, for me at least, that the rope wasn’t just there as a safety measure for in case I slip or fall (which I got to experience first hand), but more importantly, it also served as a source of strength for each time that I try to pull myself up. While I was psyching myself each time that I still have enough power to pull myself up, I figured how the rope, with the weight of the ‘belayer’ below, was also reassuring me that as I pull my self up, it will help me get up and maintain stability. Like an force that works with me or that I work with that helps each step of the way. Each time, I had to trust that that the one pulling the rope will help me take each step of the climb or else I’ll just freeze and give up.

I must say, that that force, I liken to God, whom I need to put all my trust in for each step that I make. I rely on Him not only when I slip, weakening or in need, but generally for every step that I make in life. I have people around me, who support, comfort and love me. I have my own will and determination to push myself to accomplish a task, but it won’t be enough to reach my goal. I also need God’s guidance and grace for the strength to move on. My own strength will never be enough.

It’s just so amazing how God shows Himself and makes Himself felt in any situation. I guess in a way, that climb was all about feeling God’s presence in my life, in life in general, through a very special situation.