Ok, Truth be told this last week was a little difficult to stay motivated for my upcoming bike trip. I’d much rather start planning for my CA trip I will be taking in Nov. At the moment a photo trip sounds a lot less taxing physically than riding a bike down the coast of the Carolinas… Whenever I start talking myself out of something or allow fear, self-doubt, and others to get inside my head, I usually read blogs of other people’s adventures and experiences, recall books like “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed and “Points Unknown” by David Roberts, and look back on my own little adventures in my life when I accomplished a small feat. It pushes me and reminds me that it will be worth it in the end.
One such adventure of mine is when I went rock climbing with my brother and his friends in Joshua Tree, CA four years ago.
I had only climbed on walls in a gym, and was a tad bit nervous to work my way up a real rock with no bolted in handholds, plus there was the fact that I am scared of heights… I literally lock up and freeze and can’t move; that’s how paralyzing my fear of heights is. My brother and Joel were exactly the guys I needed to get me up those rocks though. Joel had the patience and encouraging directions on where to place my hands and feet and told me to trust the rope and just relax and breathe, while my brother used his love and sarcasm to light a fire under my ass to get me moving. He would say stuff like, “It’s gonna be really cold out here hanging from the rocks tonight, Kristy ” or “bet you never thought you would stick your hands in a crack before did you.” He did his best to keep my mind off of how high I was off the ground and keep me laughing and he never bowed to my command of “get me the hell off this rock now! I am finished and can’t move.” He would just say, “well your moving your mouth aren’t you, so you’re alright” and crack on me a little more and keep telling me “the only way down is to go up” which made no sense to my fear gripped mind. He also told me I could do it and that it was all in my head. He told me it was fear I had to fight, not the rock, so put my big girl panties back on and move up one hold at a time. So at that point, my climbing took on a different meaning. No longer was it whether or not I could physically get up the rock, but would I allow fear to grip me, control me, and keep me from doing what I really wanted to do… It was a battle of my will. If I quit because I couldn’t physically make it up the rock because I lacked the strength of my arms and legs that was one thing. I could accept not getting to the top and wouldn’t see that as a failure. However, not getting to the top because I allowed fear to take over was the biggest way to fail for me. I would have a hard time waking up in the morning knowing I just plain quit. So I pressed on with gritted teeth, calculated the next move, remembered to breathe (very important), and battled myself while accepting the cold harshness of the rocks as my only way to the top. After my soul finally caught up with me at the top of my first climb, I was able to drink in what had just happened and only then did the whole disparate experience bring about an emotional harmony between my fear of heights and my determination to make it to the top.
It kind of got me hooked on the whole climbing experience. That rush and adrenaline was a sweet thing, not to mention the view from the top was freakin amazing! Wow! And I, yes, Kristy Kimball Massey, actually climbed vertically to the top on huge sandpaper granite rocks despite my fear. I know they aren’t all that big compared to El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, however, for me that weekend, they were enormous and even though I was scared spitless, I loved it all and would do it again in a heartbeat! In case you’re wondering if I finally conquer my fear of heights, heck no! I still freeze in panic on the fifth step of a ladder cleaning my ceiling fan and have to have Scott come help me down and finish it for me because I can’t move. However, the whole experience gave me another victory on my journey of how to balance my inward struggles between fear and desire. Desire won this time, Fear lost!
The images that don’t have me on the side of the rock climbing were taken on my second trip out to Joshua Tree in 2013. I went back by myself and stayed a few days to play with my camera and light. I didn’t have the thrill of knuckle scuffing and climbing up a rock, but I did have my inner struggles of dealing with being alone in a desert and all the fears that come with it…no one knows where I am and there is no cell service, oh my, what if something bad happens, what if I get lost… Nothing bad happened and I did get lost which was actually a little terrifying for those first few minute in a desert at night, but I survived and learned a lot of things! I learned more about landscape photograph and what I like and don’t like about my images. And it has taken me awhile to learn that it is ok not to come home with any stellar images. The point is to learn and grow as an artist. Oh and yeah, I also learned that I need to pay attention to what direction I park my car, because when it gets dark in a desert, every rock, Cholla cactus, and Joshua tree look exactly the same! It’s not enough to know where the North Star is or how to read a compass if you don’t freakin know what direction you need to go in the first place. Imma idiot! If you ever get a chance to go to Joshua Tree, CA do it. It is a pretty amazing place!
So my bike trip? One week from today before we leave for Nags Head and what a fast week it will be! Wish me luck! 🙂