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To climb a wall is a euphemism for being driven around the bend. Which is a euphemism for going crazy from frustration. It’s something we all experience.

But there is another form of wall climbing. This kind of wall climbing brings fun and relief to a day of hard work and stress. It is one that saves you from metaphorically climbing walls … by literally climbing walls.

Its one in which you tether yourself to a rope, and someone belays you so you don’t fall to the ground and break bones. It’s where if you don’t have a partner, you can climb indoor boulders. There, the height is never more than six feet. And a foot of shredded tire rubber awaits you should you fall, sparing you much harm, and bringing a bit of laughter to yourself and witnesses when you crash to the ground.

And it’s a sport that teaches many lessons.

I’ve learned it’s a sport where age matters little, and where someone who is “over the hill” can still learn new things.

Other lessons I’ve learned in the handful of weekends I’ve been able to go are amazing. They include finding out how fast my body can build strength. I’ve learned that strength from weight training is not the same as strength from clinging to walls. I’ve learned that climbing requires less upper body strength, and more leg strength. I’ve learned how balance and position can do much more than strength alone. Hand holds which a mere month ago were impossible to grip are now easy. Fingers that could barely grasp the hold before their strength gave out, now grip with solid confidence. Now I can rest while clinging to a wall, ten, or twenty feet in the air. Now I fall not because my fingers have given out, but because my muscles tire, or because I loose my footing, or my balance is wrong.

And they include discovering how generous total strangers can be. They offer to belay you so you can climb a wall. They provide casual instruction, helping novices like myself to gain more confidence, and grow in ability. And they’ve taught me terms like “smearing” and “dead pointing” and “flagging”.

Because of these lessons I’ve learned, I’ve changed just a bit. My perspective about people has changed, my perspective about myself has changed.

I’m glad I climbed a few walls.

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