A finite sense of freedom


For as far as my memory dares to reach, fear has always propped an umbrella above my head, even when the sky was overwhelmingly a powdery, baby blue. It has forced me to remain in a corner, despite the existence of many welcoming, open rooms. It’s controlling, and I’ve fallen under its rule far too many times.

It’s true, however, that too many hours in shadows and under umbrellas drains a person. I eventually grew tired of simply residing as a witness to my own mental decay.

I might have not known it at the time, but there was a moment not too long ago when my umbrella came down, and the sky revealed its face; it occurred inside of a rock-climbing gym—of all places—that my plagued sense of fear was momentarily cured.

I stood at the foot of an ominous wall that towered above my wide-eyed glare. With my head cocked at almost a 90-degree angle, I timidly stared ahead, facing a mere 12 feet composed of both glory and discomfort.

In the midst of overcoming my seventeen-year long battle with a fear of heights, I tried reassuring myself that 12 feet weren’t so bad. I raised my heels, standing on the tip of my toes in an attempt to fool myself into thinking I measured taller than five and a half feet.

With no rope and cushioned floors below me, improbable concerns pervaded my mind before I set my hands and feet on the wall. What if I fall? Never walk again? Die? Who will walk the dog? What will my mother say? They were foolish burdens that I knew wouldn’t occur, yet when I reached halfway up the wall, I jumped down, not because of fatigue, but rather a pulling sense of fear.

I pulled myself up and tried again, anyway. I refused to have my hands tied behind my back when they were irrefutably free. With my fingers gripping the meager, tactical holds on the wall, I maneuvered my way upward with each movement, ignoring my parasitic thoughts.

In a minute that stretched on for far too long, I eventually won the inner battle that disturbed my mind. I reached the top, despite my fear.

With both of my hands grasping the top hold, I felt an overwhelming swell of accomplishment. My thoughts brimmed with a sense of elation and bliss that simply washed away any traces of a lugubrious mindset, diminishing my fear to irrelevance and a trivial scheme.

The shock of overcoming my pesky shadow pried my eyelids open.”

As I dropped to the ground, the foolishness of my fear made itself evident, and I was comforted by a strength that was more tenacious than my thoughts. The shock of overcoming my pesky shadow pried my eyelids open.

I did it.

I put down the umbrella. I climbed out of the corner. Even if I awkwardly inched along, I did it.

For a moment, I felt alive, as if I had awoken from a deep hibernation.

For a moment, I was no longer controlled by a frivolous fiend, and I have my hands, childish courage, and mind to thank for that finite freedom.