Sunday, August 25, 2013

Outward Bound

I had my first ever Outward Bound School (OBS) experience yesterday.

It was kinda fun. I tried a lot of things I've never done before, like kayaking, only it was a tri-yak with three people on it (instead of three yaks, which would undoubtedly have been a whole lot more interesting).

But the thing I most want to remember is climbing the stupidly tall tower. Just because I'm a tall person doesn't mean I'm not scared of heights. (I'm more scared of grounds. It's the grounds that kill you.) And I assume that it's a pretty primal fear for most people, but a lot of people get over it, which is great for them. But even with a rope securely leashed to my crotch, I still am very aware of my own mortality and how one tiny mistake could mean that I won't be able to be aware of my mortality any longer.

So the side of the tower I was climbing up had a rope net a third of the way, then a totem pole with those rock-climbing handholds screwed onto it, then five logs in a zig-zag pattern the rest of the way up. The whole thing was probably four to five stories tall.

I got up the rope ladder okay, but transitioning to the totem pole was tough. It was the first time I looked down (I had to, to climb on top of the log that the net was attached to) and the height already terrified me. It took me some time to work my way onto the totem, and even then it was stupidly terrifying, because some of the handholds unscrewed themselves when I grabbed on to them.

The thing is, once I conquered the totem pole (with a lot of encouragement from my friends), I wasn't very scared anymore. And contrary to what you all are thinking now, it wasn't because of the support and teamwork, or because I had faced my fears and conquered them and mastered them or whatever romantic reason. The way I saw it, was that I was already so high up that if I really fell I'd die anyway, regardless of whether I was four stories up or five. So I had nothing to lose anymore.

And I want to remember this for two reasons. One, is that I've never climbed up anything so high before, so that was a really cool experience for me. Two, is that life is crap at telling stories. There's no profound morals or feel-good happy endings. There's just what it is, decent plot or not.

And nobody but me is going to change my story.
The Edna Man