This I Believe

Elisabeth - Macomb, Illinois
Entered on January 10, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: purpose, sports
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So there I was, chalk completely worn off my hands, and I’m going to slip any moment to plummet downwards to the stony floor beneath me. My only wish is that I could spare a hand to reach into my chalk bag because my hands are sweaty and slick. My footing isn’t stable enough, though, and I’m not wedged deep enough into this crack to allow myself to fulfill that wish. The thought of falling to my death isn’t exactly comforting.

“Keep going! Come on, Elisabeth, you can do it! Keep inching up; take your time. You can do it.” These calls from my dad snap me back into reality. Glad to be pulled out of my horrific day dream of ending up sprawled on the rocky ground below; I realize that that is not going to happen at all if I fall. In reality I’ll swing back and away from the rock face for a moment then swing towards it again, and if I’m at all lucky I could get into a better position to continue my upward journey. I know this because I trust my dad more than anyone with my life in situations such as this. I try to always have my dad belay me when my family goes climbing. A belayer is the climber’s safety net; that person is in charge of the climber’s ropes. He or she always has an eye on the climber and makes sure that the rope goes taught to catch the climber if they fall.

Climbers have complete trust in their belayers; it is not a job to trust just anyone with because it’s not the average ‘can you keep my secret’ trust in a person. This trust is has lives depending on it; it means that someone can and without mistake will literally catch you if you ever fall. It’s one thing when you’re putting your own life in someone else’s hands, but when somebody has enough trust and faith in you to put their life in your hands it is an honor I believe.

My dad, brother, and I went rock climbing at the Mississippi Palisades and met a group at the site we had chosen. After a full and eventful morning of laughing and climbing together one of the guys from the other group asked me if I would belay him so he could tear down the ropes they had set up. I was shocked. Here he is with a group of climbers that get together to climb at gyms and have way more experience than I do but he chose me, a little sixteen year old that couldn’t tie a proper knot to save her own life let alone his. Lucky for me the required knots were already tied in the rope, and I had a friend of his hook up my belaying device. For him to be able to trust me after just meeting me and having no real knowledge of how I belay other than watching me work with my brother was just amazing, and nerve wracking.

I don’t know if I could trust a person I had just met with life, he was a good climber, though, and I was flattered that he thought I was well enough trained to be anything but a bystander. When someone has that much trust and faith in you it is almost overwhelming. You are flattered that they respect you so much and you’re excited to prove yourself and nervous because heaven forbid you should make a mistake and proud of what you can do. I believe trust is a wonderful gift that allows us to have extraordinary adventures.