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Feel the rope


When I was first learning how to belay last fall at my climbing gym, my brain tangled up right alongside the rope in my hands. I was trying to remember each step of the belaying process in a logical “think-y” manner, and it caused me to mess up repeatedly. My face would scrunch up in confusion as my staff member friend, Kandice, patiently waited for me to show her the next step.

It was only when I turned off my thoughts and simply felt the motions of belaying that I was able to get the hang of it. I almost just had to close my eyes so I wouldn’t get distracted by logistics.

“It doesn’t need to be perfect,” the head setter, Andy, told me, as he swung above me, installing a new route. “You just need to save them from falling.”

Just save them from falling.

Once I felt how belaying was supposed to feel and reaffirmed the actual purpose of belaying, the actual goal I was trying to accomplish (save them from falling), that’s when it all started to feel totally natural to me.

What if this is just the way that I operate?

Everything feels so much better when I, more or less, shut off my mind and trust how things feel.

I think this is how I’m supposed to be as a writer too.

I beat my writing half to death in the editing process, because I’m afraid of the natural way I write. I’m afraid of being seen. I’ve written about this previously, in my essay “Letters to you with love from me.” I’m sure this concept has come out many times in my writing before, but I just haven’t grasped onto it yet.

The truth is that, for the most part, I much prefer the things I’ve written that are in my drafts folder or in my notes app. The quick intuitive flashes I get, the mad dashes, the rush of energy from my authentic writer self.


Was this entire life ever really mine? Was my control all an illusion? I think so, but letting go of control isn’t instant and wonderful. Sometimes it gives us rope burns as we slide down trying to hold on like a madman.

—Lisa Gungor, The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen


I’m going to hold on tightly while I’m belaying someone on the wall, but clearly some deeper part of me is asking to trust her and let go when it comes to my writing.

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