Sunday, May 25, 2008

To Finish

Ascending the heights he hangs, his movements fluid, graceful and delicate, his hands and feet fitting into cracks and crevices. With the alacrity and finesse of a dancer he works his way up the cliff. He reaches a point and pauses, assessing his route, determining his next movement. The final section is more difficult than anything he has encountered yet. His forearms burn with fatigue and he leans back, straitening his arms and allowing his biceps to rest. He gathers strength for the next move and pushes upward, muscles screaming. A solid hold for his right hand, and a shallow stub of rock slightly supports two fingers of his left. He presses his toe into the smooth slab, his special shoes gripping the sheer surface and giving him traction. With a burst of strength he rises, his left hand shoots up toward the next uncertain hold. His angle is precarious. He jabs for the hold and misses, his left foot breaks loose. He hangs on by his right hand and regains his former footing. His strength is failing. For a brief second doubt enters his mind. It's too difficult and he is too tired. "No!", he tells himself. He must finish! He has the strength to hang on and therefore he has the strength to try. He is roped, making the consequences of failure purely mental, yet he carries on as if the stakes were mortal. His body is racked with pain and exhaustion, but he perseveres, his mind overcoming his physical anguish. His battle is between mind and body.

This is how I feel right now. There is no giving up. I have to press on.