The Great Unknown

“You just need to push off and swing to the other side.”

The Just implied that it was easy.  A piece of cake.  What the experienced rock climbers, safely planted on the ground, were really telling me was that I need to let go. Obviously.  Just let go.

It was my first time rock climbing.  I felt a twinge of fear as I looked at what I was about to climb, but I silenced it.   I have always been good at climbing.  My family likes to tell me about how when I could barely even walk I would love to climb up the step stool we kept in the kitchen.  I would climb up, fall down, dust myself off, and climb back up.  I don’t remember this at all, either from being too young or from hitting my head each time I fell.  My point is that  I have always loved climbing things, as a child and yes still as an adult.  So my excitement about rock climbing quickly squashed any nerves or fear I had.

That is until on my first run up.  I managed the first half like a natural, and then I got stuck.

“You just need to push off and swing to the other side.”

Yeah okay, sure, easy peasy, I’ll get right to that.

I tried to use my unnatural long limbs to reach to the other side, so I wouldn’t actually have to let go and swing over.  I had half let go, but I was also half still holding on for dear life.  What sane person wouldn’t when they are that far above ground?  At that height you forget that you are being supported by a rope that will catch you.  At that height all knowledge that you are safe feels like a lie trying to trick you, and suddenly there is no way you are letting go.

Undeterred, I tried a second time on the second rig.  Once again I was climbing quickly and easily.  Look at me go.

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Then I fell.

I don’t remember how it happened.  I just remember one minute I was reaching, the next minute I was falling, the next minute I was caught, and then I was fine.  After that falling didn’t seem so scary anymore.  I took more risks, and yes fell many more times.  But each time I was fine.  The more I fell, the less I was afraid of falling.

My next attempt back on the other rig, I got stuck in the same place.  And you know what I did without even hesitating?  You guessed it, I let go and pushed myself to the other side.  Not only did I survive, but I realized that letting go was ridiculously fun.

Letting go can be scary.  Until it isn’t  Although that is easy to say in rock climbing (relatively) it is a lot harder when you are talking about something more personal and permanent.  Especially since in life it often seems like their isn’t a rope to catch us when we reach too far.  So we convince ourselves that our dreams our merely meant to be pretty pictures put on our shelf of someday.  Thought about and admired but not something we ever dare lived.

I have been a dreamer ever since I can remember.  I use think that when I grew up and finally started living my dreams it would be like running through a field of daisies as I easily glided into happily ever after.  Not even a little bit.  It is more like being stuck 50 feet in the air the first time I decide to rock climb.

Terrifying.

Truthfully,  I have found the moment when fulfilling one of my dreams is in my grasp to be some of the most terrifying moments of my life.  It would have been easier to stay in my comfortable shell only dreaming of my dreams.  Going to Africa has been on my dream shelf for many years.  Until one day I took it down.  The days leading up to me leaving was very surreal and very terrifying. I imagined the worst possible scenarios, and I had a few freak outs.  Not that I ever admit it to anyone when they asked.  “Aren’t you nervous to go to Africa,” they would ask me with wide eyes.  No of course not, I am tough, I am brave, I will be fine. And then I just let go, and got on a plane to fly to the other side of the world.

My first five hours is Zambia looked like this: Don’t drink the water unless you are positive it is safe,  oh and there are geckos staring at you in the bathroom, oh and watch out for snakes they are posionous,  oh and you have to use your hands to make this corn mush into a bowl so you can eat your veggies.  But that was the worst it got.  All of my freaking out and I had been fine.  Of course I knew that, otherwise I would have never got on the plane.  However just like rock climbing, it’s hard to be rational when you are 50 feet above ground; or thousands of feet above the Atlantic ocean.

For me right now, letting go looks like letting go of the life I think I should have for the great unknown of what I believe I actually want.  Which is scarier than rock climbing and flying to Africa combined.  When it comes to careers and education, I have always been practical.  In college I majored in Criminal Justice and Business (both of which I enjoyed), but if I had been truly honest with myself then I would have realized that my true passions lied in art and writing.  But I hadn’t allowed myself to want those things because they were not practical.

At one point I had a political science minor, for one of my classes I was going to take international affairs.  I was actually a bit excited for it (nerd alert), until I found out I would be one of four students with a professor I did not really like so much.  I dropped the class, changed my minor, and never looked back.  Until now.  Until now when I realize that Masters in International Relations has a nice ring to it.  Especially if it meant I got to meant people like this:

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And I thought – Huh – that sounds pretty cool.

I feel like the last three years of my life have been building for me to go to law school.  I have been putting law school on my someday dream shelf.  But I keep putting it off, and I realized that maybe it wasn’t what I actually want.  It is what the practical side of me wants, but it don’t know if its what I want.  My brain always gets this annoying idea in its head that I should do a little more, go a little further, live little more adventurously, and climb a little higher.  What I want feels a lot like this song . . .

Keep up your head up
Don’t take your eyes off the road
Oh, you’re never gonna change
By doing what you’re told
You don’t want let yourself down
So don’t be scared to stand out
There’s a thousand voices saying
The time is now

So let go
You’re on your own
There’s something waiting for you
There’s something waiting for you
So let go
Of the world
You know
There’s something waiting for you
In the great unknown
The great unknown

Read more: Jukebox The Ghost – The Great Unknown Lyrics | MetroLyrics

And maybe that means me letting go of my practical plan to be a lawyer for a much risky plan that I am not sure about.  Letting go will probably be terrifying.  Until it isn’t, until I am fine.  It can be terrifying to let go of our comfort, of our safety, of the life we thought we had wanted.  But what is even more terrifying is the thought that we can miss out on the best parts of our life because we were too afraid to let go.

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One thought on “The Great Unknown

  1. Pingback: Frozen by Doubt and Fear | These Days

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