I never expected to climb again. As I sat in the doctor’s office cringing as he plucked the staples from my knee, I thought about the inevitable challenges. Since breaking my femur, I had learned how to walk on my left leg again, but the thought of running, hiking, and climbing was far from my realm of comprehension.
That night, I met my friends at the climbing gym. I sat on the floor and watched with eagerness and jealousy as they climbed. I stared. I was terrified. Only two months prior, I had fallen from a similar wall. As I looked around at the colorful routes, I imagined my hand reaching for the green hold and slipping from its grip. I could hear the sound of my bone snapping–an ear-piercing ring that had echoed since my accident. I felt the pit in my stomach as I thought back on the indescribable pain. Yet, somehow, within in the midst of such recollection, my desire to climb consumed me.
I wiggled my way into my harness, placed my climbing shoes on my feet, and tied into a rope. I slapped some chalk against my palms and stood before the wall. I breathed deeply, my heart racing with fear. I grabbed for the first hold, wrapping my hand tightly around the uneven edges. I pushed off the ground with my right leg and felt myself move upward. I reached for another and soon realized I was climbing; however as I pressed upward with my left leg, I was overwhelmed with pain.
I remained a few feet up for a short period of time as I realized that I was not going to be able to climb, but I would climb again. Climbing that initial route was never about climbing at all. It wasn’t about making it up the wall or showing anyone else that I was capable. It was about proving to myself that I could do it if I was willing to work hard. Though I only made it a few feet up the wall, it was enough. I could and would climb again. I’ve learned that I am far more capable than I believe. It’s not about whether I am able to do something; it’s about whether I am willing to try.