Leaning Back

Last week I had the opportunity to spend a couple days in Joshua Tree National Park rock climbing with friends. It proved to be a much needed break in many ways. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. . . I returned from the desert with a new grounded-ness that I haven’t felt in a long time.

Now, you might think that a sport which involves climbing sheer rock walls would involve a whole lot of holding on. Fingers and toes gripping to the rock in a desperate attempt to NOT fall. While this is true in a literal sense, for me rock climbing is so much more about letting go. Sure, you’re holding on with your physical body, but you’re constantly letting go with your mind. I’m not afraid of heights. And I’m not really afraid to fall. But if you put me in a situation where I have to actively let go in order to “fall back” or go over the edge of something. . . well, let’s just say it’s not a pretty picture. And that, too, is a big part of rock climbing.

So there I was, alone at the top of a high rock wall, just me and the rope I was attached to. There wasn’t much of a drop before my harness would catch me, but it was enough to scare me to tears. There’s a commitment you have to make. You lean back, LITERALLY letting go and trusting that it will all be ok. You pass a point of no return. I knew logically that I was safe; but then again, the scariest things in life don’t always involve our physical safety, do they? After many attempts, lots of deep breaths, and possibly a few naughty words, I did it. I leaned back and let go. Of course my harness caught me and the rappel down was fantastic. I was still shaking when I made it to the bottom, but I had firm ground and a warm hug waiting for me. I really did it. I let go.

In that moment, something shifted in me. The physical act of letting go somehow broke apart that thing inside me which had been holding on. Holding on to what, you ask? So, so many things. Mostly this idea of who I think I should be. I spend so much time living in my head that sometimes I forget to listen to my heart. Yup, me. The yoga instructor who is always saying “Listen to your body, give it what it needs.” I forget. And then I am reminded. And then I feel peace.

Since I love them so much, I’m going to share a quote. (I really do love this one!)

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” -Lao Tzu

So now I’m back in the real world, constantly reminding myself to let go. Forgetting who I think I am. Curious to see who I will be.

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