Sunday, December 6, 2009


I like Sonnie Trotter's rhetorical approach to framing his view of climbing and self-development. Having so much time on my hands to keep off my feet, I find that watching climbing videos assuages my sense of loss.

I've never been a patient person, but I agree with Trotter's assertion that "climbing is pure fun, pure joy." I'm not even a "real" climber - I'm still working on the skills I'll need outdoors. But I have felt more personal freedom, a real sense of self-trust and wonderment, roped in and harnessed, than I've ever felt before.

Sitting in my apartment, foot propped as ordered, reading books and writing in the margins of student papers, my mind wanders. Years ago, when I was fearless and green, still missing my front teeth, I used to climb the "monkey bars" at school. The goal was always to get to the top, to sit at the steel summit and see what my world looked like from there.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Hixon felt this was too dangerous for girls. She often limped over, bearing her weight on a cane, to yell at me to get down. She was a fierce woman who looked a bit like Henry Kissinger in a polyester JC Penny suit. One didn't mess around with Mrs. Hixon - rumors abounded Elmira Elementary. She cast spells. She collected children's bones. She was a real witch, not a poser on TV.

Mrs. Hixon would tap her cane on her useless leg and demand of us, "Do you want to end up like me? Get down!" and we obeyed. Carrie, Wendy, and I were tomboys, eager to get out and make our way in the world, but none of us had the moxie to monkey around after we'd been spotted by the eagle-eyed yard duty teacher.

Looking back at my life, I had many teachers of fear. My childish impulse was to push, to explore, to see what would happen. Loving adults, even not so loving adults, were always offering imagined consequences for my curiosity. Everything I most wanted to do would kill me, in their mind, or make me deaf, blind, and stupid.

Children were safer on the ground. We shouldn't run with scissors. We shouldn't run at all. Walk. Be quiet. Don't make a mess. Don't leave a wake. Obey. Obey. Obey.

And I became supremely obedient, to rules, conventions, and even unspoken but felt restrictions. I've spent the greater part of my life worrying about consequences. In those worries, I've closed opportunistic paths. Somehow convinced of how things should be, I failed to look at how things were. I've shied away a first kiss. I've let phone calls go unreturned. I've told myself "No," far more often than I've said, "Why not?"

I have failed to see "the fine line of possibility" as anything more than a line in the sand, something I shouldn't cross. Until now.

With nothing better to do, I've been making lists of all the things I hope to do once I get this Boot of Doom off my foot. It's a work in progress, of course, and the Doc said I can't climb for six months. So in the meanwhile I'm planning to:

1. Dance badly until I feel good

2. Skip

3. Wiggle my toes with joy

4. Saunter with sass

5. Ask the guy who has been flirting with me if he is, indeed, flirting with me before asking, "You gonna do something, or just stand there and breathe?"

6. If he wasn't flirting, then I'm going to point an accusing finger and yell, "Poser!" then scurry away

7. Walk into the truck stop lobby, demand a copy of Playgirl, toss cash on the counter, then declare, "I'm buying this for the testarticles!"

8. Take my bathroom scale for a ride in the country, then beat it down Office Space Style

9. Watch The Big Lebowski again, this time with friends, and drink every time someone says, "Dude."

10. Walk until I don't feel like walking anymore

11. Perform a poem in the state capitol building - uninvited

12. Do whatever I have to do to get "Meat Spin" out of my cerebral folds. I saw it two summers ago and I still haven't fully recovered.

13. Burn some journals - it's time

14. Go sledding - I haven't been in years

I'm sure the list will grow. Climbing is at the top of all my lists, but I'm afraid I'll have to follow Doc's orders. But in the meanwhile, I will keep worrying the fray of possibility, thinking about how I want my life to be when this deep resting spell is over.

1 comment:

  1. I love your list :) Let me know if I can help with any of those!!


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