defeat [?]

October 31, 2009

Our first day “on the rocks,” I gasped as I peered behind me, once high enough to see the view from my cliff perch. We had chosen the most perfect of days, with unseasonable warmth and sunshine that had baked the side of the mountain long enough to leave the climb significantly more pleasant than my last icy-fingered effort. And the hour in which we finished the route provided a breathtaking sunset finale–a virtual paradise of North Carolina countryside from our birds eye view high on the mountain. It is an exquisite sensation, a mixture of fear, awe, and child-like glee, to realize that you are suspended hundreds of feet up in the air. At one point I joked, pretending to be about to let go, saying “Look Ma, no hands!” J, in turn, teased that this was one view, peering down at me from above, with the valley directly below, that he would not want my Mother to see.
Consequently, I have no visual aid for you all :-) Mind you, I am inspired to look for a suitably portable camera, after several experiences so far in which I longed to show the world the beauty that I was witness to at the time.
But this story does not end with the beauty. It is a more well-rounded account, as the next day of the trip proved significantly less triumphant. On Day 2, the mountain won the battle, in that I summited only one of the intended 3 pitches of that particular climb. Finally, after multiple efforts to master one set of holds, I gave up. My fingers were numbed by the shady chill of the day’s route, my arms weakened by numerous attempts, and my body shaken by the fright of a fall that had come as such a surprise that I was not aware enough to utter my normal “Falling!” warning. And so, finally, as tears sprung to my eyes, I admitted with finality that I just couldn’t do it, that I had to let go. It came as a bit of a shock to me that I took it so hard, in fact. Intellectually, I knew that I may not be able to do all that we hoped to do. But mentally, the act of surrendering to the mountain proved to be so much more humbling that I could have anticipated.
But you know, when all is said and done, my frustration did not take away from the satisfaction at days end. Somehow my spirits were still calm and content at the end of the day. I wonder if that is in some manner due to the fact that it was Creation, in all its glory, that defeated me; if I think about it in that sense, it is no wonder that I cannot begrudge such an awesome defeat.

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