As I ventured towards the Illinois Athletic Center for a new experience, or what I would call it as an experiment of the mind. You see, a friend of mine gave me a free pass to go for an orientation on indoor wall-climbing.
My question was this...would I overcome a problem of mine dealing with a fear of heights or would I give into the fear that ruled me through my life?
I accepted the challenge hoping to overcome this fear facing me, and to prove to myself that, in this world, if I set my mind to a task, I could do anything I wanted to no matter how great the fear or obstacle that stood in my way.
So I entered the building, and readied my reserves for my new task at hand, and making a fantasy come true.
After going through an extensive training in learning to tie a double figure-8 knot, John, my instructor, was running through the climbing commands, safety procedures and other things about climbing that should seem important, but instead the thing that lurks in the back of my mind is an intimidating sight of a 350 foot vertical floor turned sideways 90 degrees, this gargantuan wall that stands in front of me and says “Don't even think of beating me. You can't do it.”
I have now forgotten everything, the teachings, the time, my friends and family have all disappeared, and as I look at the bottom of this wall the only thing that comes to mind is that I'm thinking......thinking......thinking.....WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING OF IN THE FIRST PLACE! This is CRAZY!!!!!
Then John came up to me and said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
“Who told you about that?” I asked quizzically.
“You said that, remember?”
And then I faintly remember myself telling him why I was going through this, in which, I wanted to live out my fantasy.
For one brief moment, I wanted to become Spider-Man.
And I then remembered Spider-Man's motto which reinforced his way to help mankind, to do right, and to be a better person was to remember that with the power that you have in your life to help others and to help yourself, within that comes a great responsibility to others around you as well. Even if I didn't have super-human powers, the power I did have in this world was to help myself and others, and that was the great responsibility that I'd taken on for myself.
With great power comes great responsibility.
And suddenly, I felt my fear somehow drained away, and for a while nothing else in the world mattered except me and the wall, and in that time, I had the power to conquer my fear and become a stronger person from it. For a small moment in time, everything became right.
I climbed the vertical surface, pulling myself upward and over the outstretching cliff hangings, passing this green mark, later this yellow mark, and slowly working my way to this red mark when I found myself thinking.....thinking.....thinking.....,
How high up am I right now?
In one of the not-so-bright ideas I ventured on, I turned my head over my shoulder and looked.....down.
Then I heard something that my instructor John screamed up to me, which was one of the smartest things I heard him say at the time. One of those important instructions which I forgot him tell me, while I was in fear of the wall, was a number two priority---Don't Look Down.
The incredible height I was at caused myself to become sick, with the incredible urge to puke out my Corn Pops cereal, two pieces of sausage, one scrambled egg, and my morning coffee and orange juice. Not suprisingly, I felt the wave of nausea hit my throat, but with a all the will I could muster, I held it back.
Unfortunately, it also sapped my strength to keep me on the wall.
And then John said another one of his brilliant instructions I again forgot to remember, which was the number one priority---Don't Let Go Of The Wall.
Mental note: Must not forget to remember very important instructions.
My grip slipped away from the wall for a moment, and I could feel myself move away from the wall, millimeter by millimeter.
My reality snapped back to place and with all my reflexes and agility my body could give, my arms stretched back to the wall, and grabbed hold onto the fingertip crevasses once more as my body held on for dear life. I was literally holding onto the wall by my fingertips, as I struggled to regain the footing beneath me against the wall.
“No wonder they call you Spider-Man.” I could hear John faintly say, but it sounded so distant, that it felt light-year's away. I continued climbing, pushing myself farther...closer to the red line above me, as the crevasses got smaller, harder to hold onto that it made the accent increasingly difficult.
As I pulled myself past the red line, I slipped again, as my footing vanished beneath me, and my arms were to weak to hold to the tiny crevasse that supported me. My slip was fatal, and I could feel myself pull farther away from the wall.
I panicked, and prayed God would protect me.
Falling ten feet felt like an eternity, but my miracle came to shape. The safety ropes caught...and held.
“Do you want to continue on, or do you wanna come down?”, I heard John yell up to me. I gave him the thumbs down, and was slowly lowered to the safety of Mother Earth, where I kissed the ground, and as I stood up once more, I got some things I didn't expect.
The first was applause.
“What's this for?”, I asked with as to wonder what I did to deserve fifty people clapping for me as I had a puzzled look on my face.
John looked at me and said, “You're the new newbie record holder of this complex. For your first attempt ever, you climbed higher than anyone ever did on this wall for their first time, and for an amateur, you made it up the wall three-fourths of the way up. And for this being an Advanced wall, you beat the last record by 33 feet !”
Couple of guys shook my hand, and one woman came up to me and hugged me.
Incredible, I thought.
To this day, I really don't know if the record is still in place or if it even exists, but for at least that day, I beat the demon that plagued me, a demon called Doubt, and sent it howling back into the night.
I walked out of the complex, and felt good, and everything for that time in the world with me was......right.
So when I get depressed or down on life, I look back to the day I felt I could beat the odds.
You should have seen me, because for one day in my life.....I was the Spider.