A few weeks ago, I got a part-time job. The last time I had a part-time job was in college when I had four part-time jobs. (Not recommended. Three is plenty.)
My new gig is as a belayer* at a rock climbing gym. Specifically, I belay parties so my title should be Party Belayer, but this isn’t the kind of job where everyone has a title—let alone one like Senior Party Belayer or Director of North American Party Belaying. This isn’t even the kind of job where everyone has a last name.
Note: party does not necessarily mean birthday party. It could, as was the case of my first party, mean bachelor party made up of tattooed thirty year-olds who all appear to be hungover.
It could mean two couples, both pairs being highly competitive and highly religious.
And, yes, it could mean sweet, sugared-up kids with short attention spans. New respect for my teacher friends. New respect. Although, to be fair, they don’t have the added challenge of being tied into a rope and unable to move.
Despite the difficulties of convincing a group of boys to sit quietly and not wrestle one another, I like this little job of mine. I never know who I’m going to belay. Maybe today is their first day ever climbing. Maybe today is their ninth birthday. Maybe they’re terrified, but still willing to try.
That’s where I’m at right now. I’m scared; life is one curveball after another, or if I have to stick to climbing parlance, one dyno after another? One barn door? One heel hook? Look, climbing jargon doesn’t make for easy metaphors. (The sport itself is rife with metaphor, what with the losing one’s footing and making big moves and just barely hanging on). My point, if I may return to making one, is that fear is good. We should let it sit with us more. Take it with us. Whether you fall at your first attempt or ascend to the top (I told you climbing did metaphorical language proud), you’re doing something with that fear. You’re letting it push you forward, upward, possibly to the top of wall.
Just be careful: it gets dusty up there.**
* I guess I should explain what belaying is. Basically I handle the rope so the climber doesn’t fall. It’s not life-or-death like an ER doc’s job, but it may be life-or-severe-injury. Life-or-ankle-sprain at the very least.
**For real. Wash your hands after you climb. I’m not making metaphors anymore; climbing gyms are germy.