Keep your thoughts steady, keep your heart from racing, keep adrenaline low. It’s my mantra. Underneath me, a few hundred meters of vertical space spread as far as I can see. Its beauty is lost on me at this moment. My focus is my next step. Climbing.
An almost invisible split in the rock wall, the tiny imperfection of surface will support my next move, it becomes a target for my toes, fingers. Over and over. Anything else is a luxury. I know the task well, I have trained others, I have rescued others in bad weather. I have good balance and a well-trained skill. I proceed cautiously but fast, with determined confidence. I make my next move.
My toe slips, the body can’t compensate it and I fall.
If I am the second person in a team, the fall is short. There is a rope, a partner above and a metal piton shortening the distance of a fall. But if I am the lead, it is different. I pass the last piton falling and continue the same distance down. It’s only seconds in some other world but not for me. I am suspended in time, not knowing what’s next.
I see only fragments of the physical world. Without the miniscule contact with the rock, I have nothing to relate to, literally. The shock causes my mind to stop, and find itself in a completely new reality. There is no future or past, all suspended. It’s not good, not bad, there is no fear – these emotions are too slow, not relevant enough. Strangely, it’s also a seed of decisions after. Will you still love it? Will you keep an open heart? No blame, the odds were known. The rock mountain is there - neutral, silent, waiting. It’s me who is free-falling.
That moment happened decades ago, I have not climbed in years. But the scent of that experience has been haunting me recently. I sense it in myself and others holding onto the tiny cracks of stability while the world is metamorphosing itself into some unexpected version of itself. Or maybe it’s a version of something completely different. I sense it in love, when you see a familiar face differently in a sudden. Will you keep loving? I sense it when passing small farms and towns. I sense it stepping into a tiny store, similar to mine, trying to learn the rules of success changing faster than an eye can blink. I see it in myself searching for solutions. Freefalling.
It will be the tenth anniversary of our business in April and we cherish our accomplishments very much. We have many dear repeat customers, some became personal friends. We have beautiful professional connections. Our relationships are our rock. But the weather is changing. Most of our manufacturers sell directly to the consumer now, too. Some stopped selling wholesale altogether, it’s more profitable to sell directly, sell on Amazon, to survive however they can. I understand that. It’s just a change.
Change teaches a lot - it teaches you decisions on what risks can you survive. We are listening. We have been clarifying the essence of our mission, we have been clearing our store. I wish I could tell you exactly what’s next but I can’t. It has not come yet. But re-defining is essential, like learning more who you are in the process. How much you love. Will you keep an open heart?
The rock is always there, waiting, no matter if you climb or not.