Feb 2, 2011

Overcoming Cowardice

June 27th, 2010
Gage, New Mexico

I stood in the center of the man-made hollow, known as Gage Mine, about 30 feet below ground level on one side, with a rock face that rose in a gradual incline to the top of the hill, almost 100ft up. I enjoyed the serene solitude for a moment, thankful for another opportunity to venture off of the road, and hoping for an adventure that would rival the Van Horn exploration.

A beautiful white-faced barn owl (see site title photo) caught my attention as it left it's perch on the mountain-side rock face, gracefully circling me before vanishing over the hilltop. I held my gaze on this rising wall of stone, and from my angle, I determined it to be an easy climb.
As it turned out though, the easily-scaled gradual incline ended at 50ft, leaving me with about 40ft of nearly vertical rock to ascend. I squinted above in search for another route up, but decided it wasn't worth the risk, and began to lower myself down. I searched for a good foothold below, but I had no such luck.

Becoming instantly aware of the situation, a searing wave of panic swept over me as I realized that I had lost control, and I automatically assumed that I would die that afternoon. In my fear, I plead to my God for mercy, like an innocent felon; begging for retrial. I felt I deserved to live, but ironically, I had no justification. I lived 21 years on the earth, and in my foolishness, waited until 2010 to finally appreciate the privilege of life.

It had been 21 years of stagnant self-indulgence, spent on eating, drinking, sleeping, and jacking off. And not only had I led a selfish life thus far, but a completely fruitless one at that.

While considering this, my right leg began to shake. They call it "Elvis leg", caused by a rush of adrenaline, anxiety; a culmination of helplessness.

Fear shook my leg. Irrational fear caused my foot to tremble on its perch. The fear in my trembling foot even orchestrated a round of pebbles in their cacophonous fall to the ground below. But as gravity, beyond my control, brought them down, I finally saw my impulse of fear as the variable that I could alter.

In those first moments of peril, I succumbed to self pity, guilt, and even thoughts on my potential eulogy. I hadn’t even considered climbing to the top

So I chose to climb. (First though, I leaned against my ledge, and putting documentation before survival, I took a couple pictures).

I shook, sweat, and prayed; I didn't look down, or up. I figured it might be a futile attempt, leading to an inevitable fall to death anyway—“but wait” I thought, as I reached my hand up to the next ledge, grasping blades of grass. How could there be vegetation up on a rock side? I timidly pulled myself up another foot or two to witness the flat top of the hill. With a wide grin, I swung my leg over and rolled onto the sweet safety of cherished earth, and also onto a small cactus...and after a short bout with some angry bees, I stood on top of the conquered "mountain", laughing at my previous cowardice, cheering as loud as I could in pure joy, and basking in the glory of my little triumph.

I saw my fear of failure as greater than my fear of death that day.

My self-defeating fear of failure would've had me clinging to the side of a cliff, waiting patiently to meet death, rather than seeking survival.

I didn’t lack a will to live, I just lacked will.

And I see it throughout my entire generation. Like how we lack the will to explore this expansive, beautiful earth with our own senses, so we sit in the comfort of our sofas and watch nature programs in 'HD' to catch the highlights, sizing the wonders of the Earth down to the dimensions of a blu-ray disk. How we sit for hours watching juiced-up meatheads and spray-tanned drama queens bicker and fight like toddlers about the most miniscule issues, rather than spending time socializing or even having the audacity to work up petty arguments of our own.

In this abyssal pit of social awkwardness and abundance of children in their 20’s, we have become a generation without a name. Most of us lack motivation to experience anything extraordinary, and we receive no encouragement in identifying ourselves passionately with something unifying, or identifying with anything for that matter.

This is a generation with no courage to create, and barely enough will to exist.

I would like for that to change, because it can, and it changed for me on that little mountain in New Mexico.