I don't have a huge number of close friends in Korea, but I am very thankful for the ones I have made. Linda stayed up past her ajuma bed time to keep me company as I sulked through the underground shopping center. Thank you Linda! When I got home, I recharged my phone and saw that Sun-ho had called me. I called him back and we decided on the new radio schedule. I told him about my disappointing night and he invited me to go rock climbing to get that stress out. I almost declined the offer because the place was pretty far away and I just wanted to sleep my Friday away. Even up until the point when we arrived at the wall, I still didn't want to even attempt to climb it. This wall was the tallest outdoor wall I'd ever seen. It was probably 2 times higher and scarier than the one at the ARC. You know when you feel defeated, you don't want to exert yourself in any way for a while. Well, I looked at the wall and I was already giving in to more defeat. I didn't want to climb it. Despite my attitude, I went through the motions. Put on all my gear, stretched out, and next thing I knew I was climbing. The first climb was pretty good. I did the easy one and I made it to the top with relative ease. It felt good to be up there and look out into the city. There's always something therapeutic about being able to look down on the view of a city when things are a little tough. I guess it's the feeling of feeling removed from all the problems you're dealing with inside that jumble of busy streets, buildings, and people
below that gives you a small moment of reprieve. Anyways, because I'm soweak sauce, the second climb up was a little tougher. My arms were getting tired and the fear of falling started to set in. I watched as these two high school girls climbed up the more difficult routes at least two times before I finally reached the top of my route. Still, I felt good. Got the serotonin rushing naturally through my body. On my last climb, the guys asked me if I wanted to lead. Usually when you climb, the rope is already at the top so you just climb and the person who is belyaing you takes up the slack so there is tension if you fall. When you lead, the rope isn't up there yet, you climb and then you click your rope into quick draws that are connected to the wall. So essentially, if you fall off the wall before you get hooked into your next quick draw, you'll free fall for a good 8-10 feet maybe, versus 2-3 when you're not leading. It might not sound like a big deal, but when you're climbing up 80 feet in the air, you definitely don't want to feel the sensations of a free fall for how ever long it might be. It's scary, but it's also a rush. The sound of the click every time your reach the next quick draw is one step closer to the top. When I got up to my last quarter, things started to get a lot tougher. I was pretty exhausted. Clinging to the wall with one hand as you pull up the rope with the other gets tiring when you get higher up because the rope feels so much heavier! My forearms were shaking, I was sweating, my body was stiff, my heart was racing and I really felt like I couldn't make it to the top. But there was no turning back. Sun-ho wouldn't let me come down until I reached the top. I had already given up in my head and really believed in my own self doubt. I felt a double dose of defeat creeping up my spine as I clung to the wall. I finally mustered up enough energy to try to reach the hold that seemed impossible to reach and slowly lost my grip. There I went, free falling and finding myself farther down on the wall then where I was originally. Great, I thought, just great. So I climbed back up to where I had fallen and yelled down to Sun-ho that I really didn't think I could manage to get passed that point. He yelled back, "Yes you can, you're almost there and you're doing great." It was the encouragement that boosted my confidence enough to try again. I reached down into myself and gathered up everything I had. I already fell once so that fear was no longer such a looming threat. I just climbed with all my might until I finally got to the top. I finally heard that glorious final click. I took a moment and looked around at the top, took a deep break then flew down like Batman back to the bottom. It was such a great feeling of victory!
I guess what I'm trying to do with all this imagery is paint a picture of how life is like the rock wall. Sometimes we zip up the wall no problem. Sometimes we struggle a little, and sometimes we just feel like we can't do it. We just want to be lowered down to safety without burdening ourselves with a possible fall (defeat) or exerting any more physically/emotional energy. But we have to keep going. Regardless if we fall off. Even if it means we have to stay clinging for a while to regain our energy, all while helplessly as the young bucks whiz by, we have to keep climbing. I felt really good when I finished that day. I felt like I had accomplished something, even if it was only something small. Sometimes all it takes is just the little things.
So, bringing it back. I now have this new peace about not going to grad school out here. In spite of this peace, I still have no back up plan. I'm leaping in faith into the broad expanse of my aspirations. I was just watching E True Hollywood stories about the American Idol girls Kelly, Fantasia, and Carrie. Because they're so famous now, people forget, or don't tend to focus on the details of how their lives were before AI. Kelly faced so many challenges as she attempted to land a "big break." The girls apartment burned down for goodness sake! Fantasia was rapped, dropped out of high school and had a baby. She couldn't even read at a high school level. Carrie came from a small town with little to now opportunities for anything! Regardless of these things, they continued to move forwards towards their dreams and they finally got their "big break." I know mine might be a while in the making, but I do believe I'll reach it someday. I'll reach it, hear that glorious click, look around at the view from the top, take a deep breath, then fly down like Batman.