Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Half way up

I have a curious relationship with heights. I can easily lean out over a parapet on a castle and enjoy the view – but put me on a stepladder to paint the ceiling and I’m in a cold sweat.

So I faced my fears at Clip’n Climb in Maryport, and lived to tell the tale – because I bottled it.

The setup is fantastic (perfect if you’re looking for something to do on a rainy Cumbrian day), with a load of individual climbing walls you get to use without fear of bumping into another climber. The waist harness is rigged to an industrial safety rope, which lets you down very slowly if you fall away from the climbing wall. I could see it working brilliantly for all ages and sizes, who scrambled up, hit the button at the top of their wall, then slid gracefully down, ready for the next climbing challenge. Then it was my turn.

I gave every wall a go – the simple ones, the tricky ones, the ones where you use ‘ice pick’ pegs to haul yourself up the side of a fake glacier- and each time the furthest I got was half way up.

Because I looked down, and focused on how far I had to fall.

And even after testing out the harness and the safety rope time and time again, I still had to climb back down.

Because I looked down and focused on how far I had to fall.

I had lots of fun while I was there, but I learned something about myself that I need to sort. I realise I have the same struggle with my writing every day. In the safety of a blank page, I can take risks, push my luck, and fall as many times as I like without a scratch – but I feel sometimes I only achieve half of what I could be doing, because I look at how far I have gone, and worry about how far away the bottom is.

Or worse still, how far I could go.

Fear holds us back from doing daft, dangerous things for very good reason. But when you’re in a situation where there is next to nothing to fear, where you are encouraged to take a chance in safety, and you still don’t, you need to sort it. And the only way to do that is to face that fear, again and again, until it gets bored of seeing you and goes away.

So I’m thinking about how annoyed I was with myself as I struggled back down instead of letting go at Clip’n Climb – and putting that energy into my writing. To push harder, climb higher, and learn to fall and fail with style. And stop looking down.

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