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RAPPELING DOWN THE WALL OF FEAR


In a book, whose title and author escapes my memory is the author’s story of rappelling down the side of a steep cliff as part of an outdoor learning experience. Now rappelling involves ropes, strong ropes, safety equipment, helmet, good shoes, and guts. It involves, going down the cliff, not climbing it, by using your feet and legs to push off the sides of the cliff and descend to the ground.



I distinctly recall the fear in this man as he began the journey down the side of the cliff. He froze.


His instructor he recalled quoted him the program’s theme, which did not help the matter at all as it did not address the inner panic and fear being experienced as you are suspended over the side of a cliff several hundred, if not several thousand, feet in the air. (Clichéd expressions just don’t make it!) Finally, he told the man to lean backward and push off as that was the only way to do it.


He finally got the hang of it and started to descend.


But in a few moments his instructor shouted, ‘look down.’ He did.


He was descending into a deep crevasse several hundred feet below him. He would have to change course to avoid rappelling into the deep crevasse.


Fear, as I recall, checked in again.


What he was instructed to do was to lean out completely so that he was parallel to the ground… far below… and then push off and swing out in a new direction and away from his current path of descent. In doing so, he would move to another part of the cliff face and then resume his descent.


He finally did so and eventually made it down.


But he had to work through the fear. For him, that rock wall (not to mention the height) was a wall of fear.

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