Fear of Falling

May 28th, 2013

May2013 Frida

I’ve spent the last week in and around Yosemite National Park, first with a group of writers and lately hiking every day in the park. Coming from Charleston, which is flat as a pancake in every direction, the mountains are literally awe-inspiring. Awe in the sense of evoking emotions of reverence and fear at the same time. Yesterday, I stood across the road from El Capitan, 3,000 feet of granite rising from the valley floor, and watched through binoculars as climbers — visible only as specks (if that) to the naked eye — scaled the sheer granite face. As I zeroed in on a pair of climbers, one of them had to swing from side to side on the belaying rope to get enough momentum to reach a spot where he or she could get a foothold on the next ledge upward. I have an intense fear of heights and just watching from the ground below sent adrenaline shocks through my body like electrical zaps. At the same time, I envied them, and I was transfixed by the focus, confidence and insanity that it takes to believe that you can scale a mountain. I thought about the mettle required to let go of where you’re standing and swing out in midair in hopes of finding another spot that will hold your weight. I lack that courage in many aspects of my life, especially in my writing. I don’t count blogging or writing for Skirt! because it’s a different process, one that doesn’t involve fear of falling or fear of failure. It’s been years since I’ve attempted a full-length essay, and I mourn the part of me that seems to have gone missing. If I tried it, maybe I’d find that I don’t have anything to say that requires an essay, but I wish I could just let go and go for it and trust that I’ll find a place to land.

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