Shedding Fear While Rock-Climbing

Last Sunday, on a perfect North Carolina fall day, Lynn Weller led a group of eleven RC women on a rock-climbing adventure in Hanging Rock State Park. For most of us this would be our first time. Lynn and two experienced climbers set everything up before we got there-ropes were anchored at the top of the rock (waaaaaaay up there!), harnesses were ready, special climbing shoes available, helmets-everything we needed to make this adventure completely safe.

Lynn started the day by explaining the purpose of this outing: not to learn to climb, but to push ourselves to the point where we felt we had to give up and then to persist beyond that. As females, many of us were taught early on that we shouldn't push ourselves; that we should "be careful"; that we were not expected to do very scary things. Lynn explained that climbing is a natural human activity, that children love to climb, and that our fear of climbing was installed in us from the outside by anxious adults who themselves had been made afraid of heights. She reminded us that children often climb with complete confidence much higher than their parents' comfort level can tolerate. She also showed us why we would be completely safe on the face of the rock, even if we lost our balance or our toe-hold. Then she explained basic climbing techniques, and the next thing, we were climbing! We each had mini-sessions before and after the climb, and of course we were given lots of attention while we were on the rock.

For me it was a transforming experience. About halfway up I got stuck, I couldn't find anything to hold onto, and I couldn't figure out how to move from where I was. I felt I had to give up. Lynn and the other women encouraged me to discharge and assured me over and over again that I could figure it out. After about ten minutes of shaking, I suddenly did see where to move my foot, and then where to move my hand, and the next thing, I was at the top!!! Rappelling down was just plain fun. When I reached the bottom I actually could not stand because my legs were shaking so much!

I watched the other women climb. Each of us got stuck at one place or another; each of us shook (and one woman had a very heavy crying session) and got unstuck. Every woman reached the top of the rock. I have never seen it so clearly demonstrated how fear obstructs our ability to think, and discharge enables us to reclaim it. I am sure that fear keeps me "stuck" in my life more than I am even aware of.

The best part was just that I did it. In February I will have my sixtieth birthday. It's a great age to take up a new sport, don't you agree?

Pat Fischer
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA



Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07