Tuesday, February 08, 2005

An Analogy

I just read about a quietly growing segment of the rock climbing population: DWS. That stands for "deep-water soloists." They work with no equipment, and their only safety mechanism is the water beneath them. Their climbs happen at the seashore, rocky coast-lines, with crags suspended over the water.

Clearly, these free-climbers work more dangerously because the chance of a fall is present, but less dangerously than those who work over a hard surface. There is an inherent risk in the sport, but not necessarily life-threatening.

The author of the article was a more typical rockclimber. He states that his entire participation in the sport was based on not falling. At all costs, he avoided the chance of falling. But in avoiding the chance of a fall, some climbs, or attempts within the climb are avoided. Holds have to be easily "do-able," so the risk is minimized (at least within the realms of the sport).

What the author discovered is that being over the water meant the risk could be taken. An impossible hold could be attempted.

Here is the point: it was not avoiding the fall. It was knowing the fall would not be life-threatening --painful, but not life-threatening. But if you have been taught to avoid a fall at all costs, you lose the capacity of trying something amazing when the risk is lower. Sometimes, we have to examine whether the threat is as real as we have learned it to be.




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