Trying not to Fall

I found it.

At least, I think this is it.

This is the wall I’ve been looking for.

The air is sultry, a fog hangs in the air above me, and I can’t see the top. Hell, I can hardly see the first twenty feet of it, but I’m sure this is it. It’s got to be.

The wall stands alone among a grassy field. The grass around me is tall and has gone to seed. A lazy mist hangs low, clinging to the ground.

It’s sweltering.

The brick wall is perfectly straight from what I can see. It juts out of the earth and rises straight up into the fog. I have no clue how tall it really is, but I know it’s tall.

It might never end at all.

There are foot holds, or steps, staggered, traveling up the wall into the unknown. It’s daring me to climb. I’m not afraid of heights, but I am afraid to die.

Not afraid of the concept of death, or of my eventual death. I know that will happen someday, and I accept that. I just don’t want it to be so soon. I want to grow old, gracefully.

Of course, that’s what everyone wants, and not all of us get that.

I feel the footholds. They’re moist from the fog in the air, but I think I can gain some grip.

I place my foot on the bottom step, and grab the two above me.

I start to climb.

I continue climbing, slowly. I stop every few feet, looking back down.

If I fell now, it wouldn’t hurt too badly. The grass is thick, it would break my fall.

I keep climbing.

It starts to feel good. My muscles feel good in the air that’s begun to cool, it’s just the right temperature.

I climb faster. I start to smile and laugh as I make my way up the wall. The fog has thinned a bit, a cool breeze kisses my cheeks, and I can see further up. The fog still engulfs the top of the wall though, the steps traveling into the abyss above.

I keep going as the steps get a little drier in the thinning fog.

Sunlight begins to poke through the clouds. The warmth of the sun soothes my cheeks, and I squint in the face of the light.

Then, as my left foot makes contact with another step, it crumbles under my weight.

My right foot slips off the step in the process, and I nearly fall completely, barely hanging on with just my hands.

Quickly, I find the foothold with my right foot and steady myself on the wall.

I look down.

The ground is far out of sight, and all I see is fog.

Amidst the commotion, the sun has disappeared again, and the clouds and fog surrounding me darken. I can’t see too far up the wall anymore.

I think about going back down.

My pride pushes me upward.

A little shaken up from the near fall, I continue climbing.

I go steadily for a while, I’m not sure how long. I’m a little more careful now, testing each step as I go, but I’m making steady progress. At least, I think I’m making progress. It’s hard to tell, since I still can’t see the top. Just more fog. More of the unknown.

As I go I stop to rest here and there, then continue. I stop to look at a bird that flies by, or a butterfly that flutters near my ear. I even come across a wasp nest nestled near one of the steps. Very carefully, I move past it, the wasps not paying me much attention.

Wasps don’t bother me anyways. They leave me alone because I leave them alone. And I don’t run around as if my hair is on fire if I come across them. I can relate with wasps. They just want to be respected as having a home, and a place on earth. At least, that’s how I interpret it. They only get angry if they’re encroached upon, disrespected. I can relate.

The climb continues.

It’s getting colder, and the steps are growing smaller, the fog settling in thicker.

It starts to snow.

The snow is beautiful, but it’s even harder to see as the snowflakes fall into my eyes. The snow is getting heavier. Big, thick snowflakes are dumping now, and I can hardly see more than three or four feet up the wall.

I have no idea where the top is, or if I even have a remote possibility of reaching it.

That is, if the top of the wall exists at all.

I’ve been climbing so long now, and I’m so far up, but since I can’t see the ground, I have no clue how far I’ve actually come.

I’m exhausted.

The muscles in my legs and arms ache, my core muscles have a dull burn, and my fingers are freezing. I can hardly feel them at all. I stick my hand down my pants and wince as I use my testicles to warm my icy hands. I alternate my hands back and forth until I regain some feeling in my fingers.

But now my legs are trembling just trying to hold my body in place.

I’m not sure if I can go any further. Am I wasting my time? Will I fall to my death long before I make it?

Is going back even an option now? I’ve come so far. And going in reverse would surely present its own difficulties. I’d be just as likely to fall trying to go back down, particularly with gravity constantly trying to yank me back down to hard ground.

I cling to the wall as I try to decide.

I try to imagine my life as an 80 year old man, if I’m to survive that long. I try to imagine what that will look like, where I will be, and what I have accomplished.

I try to see the unknown.

With a few deep breaths, I remember how important this is.

With trembling fingers, I squint my eyes to the falling snow, and reach up for the next step.

One thought on “Trying not to Fall

  1. Pingback: Lots of Pictures Up! – Brent Atkinson

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