J5-The Sand Slope

Hello everybody. This week’s assignment was to write on a situation where I felt completely helpless. I wrote about two, one was the cause of the other. It is up to you to decide in which one I was truly helpless. Enjoy. 🙂

The Sand Slope

Situations where I find myself helpless are not that common. That is probably because I am quite a cautious guy– I believe. Anyway, when I was thinking about situations I could discuss, one that really stood prominently was climbing. I enjoy rock climbing. I do not know why, I just enjoy it, even though I kind of stink at it. Still, I climb just about every rock I can get to, and this has led to some situations where I have felt completely helpless.

One such situation was in Australia. I had just crossed a river on a bridge (or dam, that was my original intention for it) I had made out of stones. On the other side was a huge rock. I do not mean huge as in big, but huge as in enormous. It probably towered fifty feet into the air. It was a giant grey mass of jagged stone, standing out from everything else around it, beckoning to me irresistibly. There was a fairly steep base, which led onto a shelf of rock where a few people could stand comfortably. Above that, there was another shelf, and that shelf was my goal.

I began the climb by ascending the base onto the first shelf. It was hardly a challenge. The climb was fairly short, and the handholds and footholds were plentiful in the least. I made it to the top quickly, and turned around to give a wave to anybody who happened to be watching. Then I looked around for ways to get up to the next level. If I faced the rock, to my left there was a slope of sand, at about a forty five degree angle, curving out, then around onto the second shelf. To my right, there were three jagged towers of rock, nearly vertical. The choice seemed obvious, I chose the left path. It was one of the most terrible decisions I have ever made, and it is only thanks to God’s protection, that I made it out alive.

Now, those who have done a fair amount of climbing, will know that sheer slopes, with no handholds or footholds are treacherous and deceitful, and that a slope made out of hard, compacted sand, as hard as rock, but which slides under your feet like marbles, is ten times worse. I did not know this, and started my climb. It was easy at first, the slope was not too steep, and I managed the first part easily. I rounded the bend, with my back to the sheer drop that lay behind me, reached forward with one hand, then realized the precarious position I was in.

My motion with my hand had started me sliding back, towards the edge. I froze, and stopped sliding. I tried reaching forward again, and slid even further. There was no way I could get back onto the first shelf. I had passed the center point of the turn, and any move brought me closer to my doom. I was terrified, and frozen stiff; falling to my death was not the way I had planned my holiday to end. My heart drummed in my chest like rain bouncing off a tin roof, yet with the violence of hail hitting asphalt. I was too far up for anybody to hear me if I shouted for help, and I probably did not dare try, for fear that it would cause me to slide even more.

It was in this moment, this span of time, which, though it probably lasted no more than a minute, that I wondered if my end had come. I could think of no solution to my problem; the drop was at least twenty feet down onto jagged rock. In this time, I was faced with my own helplessness, and the realization of how little I actually controlled. As God would have it, it was the small things that saved my life. I looked down and noticed a small bush, growing out from the sand slope. It looked firm enough, and the roots seemed sturdy. I grabbed onto it with my right hand, and used it as an anchor, with which to rotate my sliding around. This way, I managed it so that I slid back onto the first shelf.

I must have been quite daring, because I remember not long after, trying to ascend by means of the rocks on the right; I found that much easier than the sand slope. However, though I may not have been affected much by it at that specific time, several years later, I had a nightmare of sliding down a sand slope that emptied into a void, I had to keep moving to stop from falling, and this time, there was no bush to save me.

~Michael Hollingworth
Disce Ferenda Pati – Learn to endure what must be borne

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