Learning How To Fall

I was never to be one of those eager rock hoppers effortlessly jumping from one boulder to another. If there were enough, flat enough, and close enough together, you might see me doing my imitation of the better climbers in our group. They accomplished feats that I’d put in the same category as those achieved by mountain goats. But, for me, the fall waited if I attempted them.
Despite years of martial arts to improve my balance, I remained a hopeless klutz who could twist an ankle on a flat trail. The best boots seemed to make it worse. It didn’t help that on one trip across Mount Katahdin’s Knife Edge, a friend idly calculated how long it’d take to reach the bottom.
Why did I insist on hiking and climbing with these fears? Falling was disastrous, but being away from the outdoors was worse. There was no bromide for my clumsy climbing and walking. But I preferred being a denizen of the woods, trails, and heights to being desk-bound on weekends working on term papers.
On Memorial Day weekend in Maine one year, we were going over the Knife Edge and then up to my nightmare, Pamola, a sheer little peak that was all torture for me. But, something clicked for me that morning, and I decided that for once, I would be mindful of the dangers of falling but wouldn’t let them control me. So, up I went hesitant but much more confidant than ever before. Instead of the downward gaze I had schooled myself to avoid, I found myself looking about in all directions.
Of course, I was scared of falling, and I’ve never ceased being a clumsy klutz on the trail and climb. Excellence is not an achievable goal. But I take care and avoid letting the fear of falling become my failing

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