To Be Free

I swim forward, not in water. Above protection, complacency, comfort. I reach back to catch my breath but find–I have gone too far.

Climbing is metaphorical–in the worst way. Painfully symbolic so that whole lives are shaped around a single imperfection scarred on an ancient face. To move upward is progress, to reach back–only human, but to try again–now, that is the stuff that heroes of made of. Constant reminders of mortality. The fear, the tears, the burning (sear) that rips through flesh. We are not created equal–and that is where everything starts. Where dreams begin (where dreams end). It is the inequality, the un-fairness, that drives us to find meaning. Why else, would man climb these self-imposed ladders? Why else, would we try to better our best?

So I swim forward, not in water but upward on granite slab. I reach back to catch my breath and find I have gone too far. I am forced forward, to think only of my next move. I can breathe. I am focused–free. Climbing is metaphorical in the most obvious way. It is so clear what I need to do–where I need to look to find peace. There is no comfort in being comfortable. But there is freedom in being free.


I have come to believe a choice is a choice only if you stick with it. I started this story at least 5 different times, each time pressing backspace as a new idea popped into my head. Those words disappeared never to reappear again—at least in that order. In those erased words I made a choice—to write, and then to erase.  This may seem like two choices but the decision to write was null after the decision to erase was made and what stood was the choice to erase. So many times in my life I have made what seems to be a life changing decision and two days later I eat the chocolate, I re-activate my facebook, I talk to the person I swore I would never speak to again. Those choices, that in the moment, seemed to be the most significant choice of my life were in fact just attempts to justify, explain, and control my insecurities. The choices that matter, that at their core follow the actual definition of change are what stick with you for an eternity and never leave you wondering if you took the right path. On this particular day I made a choice to be free.

Locked in the Upright Position

Fear, for me, tends toward one thing and when I fear all I think about is this one thing. I can’t conceptualize it—in fact the only way I can describe it is through this reoccurring dream I have where I can’t move. I’ve self diagnosed this dream, with the help of WebMD, as “sleep paralysis” but this seems like a poor excuse, and as a psychology major there must be an underlying cause. So in order to further understand my fear I try to think of what I know. I know I am afraid of getting older; and I guess this dream can tell me I am afraid of not being able to move. But not growing older and being able to move are opposites. Sure I could stop getting older, but then I stop moving; alternatively I could move, but then inevitably I get older.

I come to this realization a lot, and sometimes I scream, usually I just hide. I hide until I remember this flight home from my trip to China after seeing the 2008 Summer Olympics. The sun was setting behind the plane and instead of flying into the night we were entering the previous day. We were moving back in time—running from the night. It was a strange feeling, as if we had the ability in that moment to be infinite. It was as if in that moment had the ability to move while not growing older. Most other airplane rides don’t stand out as anything that exciting. They are long and the people I meet seem just about as ready as I am to get to my destination. But I realized in that moment, I had an opportunity to alter my fate even change my past! I should’ve jumped out of my seat, yelled to the heavens, “I have figured out how to stop being afraid!” But all I felt when I looked out that window was a loss of control. I realized then with a somber dissatisfaction, that no matter how many times I could circle the earth trying to race the darkness and freeze time the more time I would waste trying to control my fate and the more my life would become a series of the same stories.

When I begin to fear, whether it is on a climb or during a test I try to remember I can’t stop time or change the past, each experience leaves me and instead of being unsatisfied and upset that it is gone I must move on. I will never be able to repeat it and reliving it over and over again will dull its original memory and soon it will become nothing but regret. When I remember this I remember that fear is a natural part of being alive, and suddenly the veins of my being open up and the fear rushes out through and out my fingers and toes, I AM FREE.


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