Quote of Inspiration

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Atilla and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Fig for my Kids.........

Last week my son asked if he could climb the rock wall at the gym. He's finally heavy enough - 35 lbs. So, we got him in the harness and hooked him up so that he could climb and rappel. Then, he sort of froze and looked at the guy and said, "I don't want to do it. I'm scared." Then, the gym worker told my son, "Oh, don't worry. Look, your mom will do it first and show you."

And I'm all.......what?????

To rappel is on my list of 52 figs, sure. But it's one of those distant, hazy figs that I know one day I'll do because I started this list and will lose face if I can't finish it. It was never something I thought I'd do just because, even though the gym rock wall stares me in the face every week and even though there are harnesses and lines for rappelling just waiting to be used. No, I thought I'd wait for my husband to get home, to pump me full of Army-issued courage and bravery. He could yell things to me like, "Don't worry, dear. Pain is just fear leaving your body!"

But there I was, with my son's enormous blue eyes looking up at me. My kids know I'm afraid of heights, so I looked down at him and said, "Oh, son, I would but I'm afraid of heights."

Then, of course, I realized my moment to show my kids that even if you're afraid of something, you can still try. It was one of those after-school Hallmark moments, and I took it. I put on the harness and thought: I'll just climb a bit, not look down and be done with it.

I got about a quarter of the way up the wall and froze. My hands were shaking, and I had somehow (in less than three minutes) broken out into a crazy flop sweat. I couldn't go up and I couldn't go down. The gym guy was yelling, "It's okay, just let go." But I couldn't. Even though I was in a harness and linked to a wire, I was sure that if I let go I flop to the ground in a massive heap and probably break every bone in my body. I literally hung there in a slippery death-grip, and I'm not kidding when I tell you that I was only about five feet off the ground.

I slowly climbed back down. Forget rappelling. It was all I could do manage my feet on those slippery little rocks, one wobbly step at a time.

It took me three tries before I would let go and use the rope to rappel down. My kids were so excited, you can't believe it. I made it a third of the way up the wall that day, and even though I landed straight on my ass every time I got down, my kids were really just pumped.

We went to the rock wall three more times before I got it. Every time I do it, my hands shake and sweat. I can't look down. I just have to keep going. But yesterday, I got to the top and rappelled down, three times no less.
Fig.....checked. I have officially rappelled.

It feels great. I don't think I'll go climbing any mountains or anything crazy, but it feels good to know that I can face heights and get over it and do something I'm afraid of. I mean, this AND being able to braid challah. Is there anything I can't do?



  1. You GO, girl! That is AWESOME. You faced your fears, no less in front of your little ones who will likely never forget it. I love the figs that get checked before you had a chance to really think about it.

  2. AP, My heart is swelling with pride. You are an amazing person. Thank you for sharing. Love you!!!

  3. AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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