We were vacationing in Maine, camping out of a trailer in a campground across the road from a outdoor pool and ‘arcade’ that held one arcade game, “NFL BLITZ”, a game I much enjoyed being the young boy that I was. A family trip full of bonding, grumpy mornings and forced outings. We stayed in Acadia, a national park up in the Northeast. We went hiking, swimming and even drove up to the top of Cadillac Mountain before dawn to catch an amazing sunrise, much to the chagrin of my brother who ended up staying in the car and sleeping through it.
This story, however, will focus on the rock-climbing adventure we had one day. We signed up with a company in Bar Harbor and drove out to cliffs that jutted out over the sea. The sun shown in the clear blue sky, the ocean view spanned out before us and the waves crashed against the rocks below. We had already gone through some training about belaying and other necessary skills. The professionals set us up and we went to work. We rappelled the cliffs near the water, feeling the cold spray, and then climbed back up, fingers gripping hard edges, working our way up to the top. It was exhilarating. I had only rock-climbed indoors before and this was far beyond that, feeling the open air, seeing the water below, and climbing up a vertical rock face. It spiked your adrenaline and you felt tired but accomplished when you reached the top.
We took turns belaying for each other and climbing. At one point, I was belaying for my dad. He’d just rappelled down and was working his way up while I worked the rope, pulling the slack and keeping it tight as he ascended.
Then he came to an impasse. “There’s nowhere to go,” he said. “I think I’m stuck.”
Now, being stuck wasn’t a big problem or anything, it wasn’t that difficult to haul somebody up if the need came, but I didn’t want my dad to have to be rescued. I wanted him to have that feeling of accomplishment, of reaching the top on his own.
“You don’t see anything? Nothing to grab?” I yelled back.
“I don’t think so, the rock kind of juts out here.”
I had the rope tight and I was anchored. Even if he slipped, he wouldn’t fall. I had him.
“Just try something!” I yelled.
I didn’t hear a response, but I could hear movement and scuffling from below. The rope slackened as he rose and I yanked it tight, keeping him secure. After a few minutes, he reached the top and pulled himself up.
“It worked!” I said.
“Yeah,” he said, taking off his gear and patting me on the shoulder. “I just had to try something.”
This is a true story and one my dad and I have referenced over and over again over the years, partially because it’s a funny and emotional moment for us, but also because it has a universal message, as corny as that sounds. I can imagine my father’s thoughts down there, facing the rock halfway up with nowhere to go, only a rope holding him from dropping to sharp rocks and cold water below. He may have been tired and he may have been afraid to take a chance. The brain is easy to scare and difficult to reason with. The logical part may remind you that the systems in place will save you no matter what but it’s difficult to convince the emotional part that sees only a thin rope holding you from certain injury and possible death. He saw no easy crevices to grab, no simple pathways up the rock face so he felt stuck. The overhang jutted above him, looming and imposing.
How many of us get stuck, paralyzed by indecision, our emotional alligator-brain ignoring the logic and freezing us? “Just try something” is not just advice to try on the rock face but advice for life. When faced with a difficult situation, consider the options logically, assess the risks and ‘just try something!’ You may not succeed but you will gain knowledge. The whole Thomas Edison lightbulb quote is overused but practical. Each failure tells us something new so the chance of success grows.
Stuck on what to write or blog about? Just try something!
Stuck on what to do/what to make/where to go next/what the next step is? JUST TRY SOMETHING!
This goes well with the theme of this blog. Write first. Create first. Act first. Climb first.
TRY SOMETHING FIRST!
I think there are times all of us are faced with a giant rock in our path and feel stuck, a time when we need somebody to push us, to yell at us: “JUST TRY SOMETHING!” Not an angry yell but an enthusiastic one, one that says “try something, because I will be there if you fall and it will be okay.”
So for right now, right here, that person is me, yelling at you, if you are stuck in some situation,
JUST TRY SOMETHING!