Climbing walls.

Some days are more active than others.  Some days include group fitness and scaling walls.  Sometimes you even get a lovely purple bruise  on your knee from your intense activity.

Then you sit and watch the Vikings lose, barely able to keep your eyes open.  Yet, the day longs to be processed and published, so you sit in bed with Matilda and think about it.  What was the takeaway from today?  What was significant about the way I spent my time today?

DSCN4862As I sit here and think about it, I think that indoor climbing has a lot of parallels to life.  Let me just lay out a typical facility for you: there are some easy walls – straight up and down, lots of big things to grip (often shaped like turtles, hippos, and whales), spaced in a way that you’re rarely in a pickle to find your next move -, there are medium walls – slight inclines, uneven surfaces, smaller things to grip, some spots where you need something to put your foot on but it’s a foot away from where it “should” be -, and there are hard walls.  I don’t know all the lingo for the hard walls, so I’m just going to skip the description.  All you need to know is that they’re difficult.

As a climber (though I can barely call myself that) and as a life-liver, I gravitate towards hippo-shaped rocks and minimal inclines.  I like smooth terrain and support exactly where I think I need it.  I sweat in panic, in those moments where the rock looks like it’s a little too far away or just a little bit smaller than I’d like or shaped so that it isn’t easily gripped.  Then the sweaty palms make it easy to let go.

You don’t fall far.  It barely seems like a failure, to give up midway through a fairly easy task.

But you really don’t learn anything either.  There isn’t any strategy involved.  No need for perseverance.  I could tell myself that it was challenging enough to just step outside of my normal activities to climb walls (I know you’re surprised that I don’t do that on a regular basis already), but it’s not, not really.

There’s no growth.  No new skills.  Growth and skill come from moments where you step on a foothold only to realize that there wasn’t a foothold where you thought there was.  There’s a moment of wild panic, some small flailing.  But then you learn that you should plan where your feet go before you move.

Lesson learned. Growth.

I’m going to have lots of opportunities to choose the hard walls, to pick challenges outside my comfort zone in the near future.  In conversation, in class schedules, in extracurriculars, in relationships.  The possibilities are endless and so is the growth.

Here’s to choosing challenge in 2013.

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