Commentary: Keep an open mind about supportive housing

January 13, 2014|By Becks Heyhoe

I stood in front of what seemed like an insurmountable slab of rock in Joshua Tree.

One friend was at the top, holding onto a rope that I had willingly agreed to have attached to me. Another stood behind me, saying words of encouragement, trying to get me to believe that by simply putting one hand in front of the other and one foot in front of the other, that I would be able to climb this monster.

I hate heights. I get dizzy and nauseous but had decided that it was time to face my fears.

Most of our fears are based on irrational feelings, but they have this nasty way of enslaving us, closing our minds to new possibilities, ideas and concepts.


I tentatively tested out these magic shoes that had been bequeathed to me with assurances that they stick to rock, that you only need the smallest piece of rock to balance said shoe upon and you can, indeed, climb.

I was amazed to see that they worked! Bit by bit, I began my ascent, slowly but surely making progress, and with each move I made that didn’t result in my falling or slip-sliding down the rock face, my confidence grew. Confidence in the harness that attached me to the rope. Confidence in the rope that my friend (a professional rope access technician) at the top was holding onto. Confidence in my friend (also a pro) below me, who was giving me instructions.


A challenge midway

But then I hit a difficult section, one that required a huge leap of faith, one that required me to take a bigger step than I thought my inexperienced legs would be able to manage. I kept looking at it, becoming fixated on what I thought I couldn’t do. My fears drowned out the voices of my friends — the experts. My fears told me it wasn’t possible. I could feel panic starting to well up inside me.

Eventually I tried, but it was a timid attempt, and I failed. Before I knew it, I was grasping with my hands at the granite rock face, and I was sliding down the perilous cliff face. The rope caught me. I came to an abrupt stop, and the tears began. I looked at my now-bleeding arms, fighting the urge to vomit.

My friends checked on me and continued to offer me encouragement as I battled nausea. Wiping away my tears and staring at my bloody arms dangling in the air halfway up this rock, I wondered why I’d ever set out to attempt this seemingly impossible task.

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