This week two Yosemite climbers, Kevin Jorgenson of Santa Rosa and Tommy Caldwell of Estes Park, having completed the first free climb of the Dawn Wall route up El Capitan, challenged all of us to face and conquer our own walls. Something for me to dwell on. I figure at my age the walls left to conquer are psychological ones, and of those, I have plenty to contemplate.
Last week at a dinner, surrounded by so many lovely new friends, I felt sadness envelop me. A smile was still plastered on my face (curiously exposing my new dental implants of only two days before) but inside I was swallowing my sobs. It happened to be the twentieth anniversary of the death of my dear sister, Lorraine. Death anniversaries carry a special kick, as any sensate person knows. But my sadness was compounded by being with new friends, rather than old ones who had experienced that phase of my life with me. In my mind I found myself judging my new friends for their shallowness and lack of compassion. Of course everyone was oblivious of my feelings. How could they not be?
What I realized, on reflection, was that I needed to look in the mirror. Alas, it is me that is withholding tender and vulnerable parts of myself. To be real, among friends either new or old, I have to choose to take the risk; to be vulnerable, to take the chance of falling. Like climbing El Capitan, this takes courage and perseverance. I hope I have it.
From my deck in Oakland (on the right) I would
often study the winter cloud formations and
find insight and peace. A soothing and spiritual
experience not so available in this valley where
currently hang my hat. Even so, this county is abound with beauty of its own kind, and new friends can become as precious as the old. I have
lots of walls yet to climb.