Several years ago I had a climbing accident. I was scaling a rather simple cliff in Colorado, my partner failed to secure his grip (it was his first time climbing), and went tumbling. I was fixed, so I grabbed him and pulled him back to the wall. I ended up tearing my bicep and getting a concussion that took about 6 months to heal. How I drove back home after, is frankly a mystery, and due to the beauty of my basal ganglia. My concussion wasn’t immediately apparent, and presented itself in a variety of ways that prohibit some memory recall. I don’t like to talk about it because I can’t remember a lot of it. In fact, in the time after, short term memory, long term memory were all impacted and I was operating on what I consider a sort of auto pilot. I hid it extremely well, because I was / am still a note taker. I scribble endlessly on papers and journals, and since it is my own writing, I viewed it then and now as truth.
Which is not to say anything beyond the fact, that I don’t have the grace of going back and recalling most of that time – so what I wrote down, happy, angry or sad, became cemented as truth, not the nebulousness of memory. There is a fixed sensation once something is locked into writing – and unlike most who have the duel perspective of writing and recalling – I only have the writing. I can’t edit it in my brain. It is truth.
Things withered and died in this time. Other things grew. Habit took over much of what I did until function came back. I’m perfectly healthy now – with the recent exception of viral plague striking me of late.
One thing I did keep, clear as a whistle, is a fear of climbing. I’d never fallen before – at least, not at the height we were at, some 80 feet off the ground. Because of my writing from that time, I have associated climbing, once a passion of mine, with pain, loss and fear. That isn’t to say I haven’t been climbing since… I have, just not with the same careless abandon I’d tackle cliffs before.
And I, all too often, find myself searching the websites of national parks with a longing that is hampered by fear. I don’t have an obsession with climbing Everest – I don’t like the cold and gear required. I do have a mild obsession with overcoming this hesitation I detect within myself. This summer, I’ve considered a million things I’m going to go do. I’ve hesitated, and gone back and forth – but I’m going to go tackle a mountain.
The outcome, good or bad, isn’t the point. I don’t need to suffer. I just need to show up and prove to myself that I am stronger than the fear that attempts to hold me back.