I’m scaling a cliff without a harness and nothing to catch me if I fall. All that propels me are my own bare fingers and shoeless feet. Above me is a blue sky with an occasional wispy white streak of a cloud. All around me is still and my body feels cold.
I’m shaking, but my fingers clutch to the rocks above me and my toes wrap around whatever foundation they can find. The rocks begin to crumble and fall down to the depths below.
I try to take a deep breath to steady my grip, to quiet my mind, to stop my body from shaking. I must let go of the crumbling rocks and find the strength to pull myself up farther before I fall. Letting go to rise further takes incredible courage and while I don’t feel like I have it in me, I let go because I must.
I push off forcefully with my feet and breathe with relief when my fingers find a new nook to hold onto. I’m steady again. I look up at the sky and am blinded by the bright rays of the sun. I feel their warmth. I feel at peace, but only for a brief moment.
Suddenly and without warning, the rocks beneath my feet fall away and I’m left hanging by one hand—holding on for all that I’m worth. It’s desperation now and the innate will to survive.
And then I look up and see two strong arms reaching out for me. I quickly grasp the hands and I’m pulled up, my body scraping along the edges. And then I rest, curled into a ball on the very edge—completely drained of all energy.
When I awake, I am alone again. I look up and see that there’s still more to climb. It’s either up or down because I cannot stay on the small ledge forever. With shaky, yet renewed, strength I stand and begin to climb again, fingers grasping the crumbling rock and eyes locked straight up at the warmth of the sun.