T-Wall — near where I fell
Most people I tell my rock-climbing story are more impressed by my story than I am. Sure, I’ve got scars. There’s a white mark just above my lip that annoys me every day. And?
That’s why it always surprises me, though, when readers suggest I turn my story into a book. After re-reading my story this past January, my friend Vance sent me a message: “So, I just finished rereading your ‘How Not to Die‘ story, and I’m asking myself: How is this not a book? Or, at least, the beginnings of one? It is truly an amazing story, however you take it . . .”
In the past, I’ve always brushed such suggestions off. That’s what I did to Vance. “To be honest, I’ve already written nearly as much as I know to say about my rock-climbing accident. I have no idea how I’d turn it into a book . . .” is what I told him. And that was the truth. In “How to Not Die,” I’ve given the reader everything I can — from my perspective. Continue reading
There are things you learn to live with. Things that never cross your mind—until “that time.”
That time when you’re ordering at Starbucks and the barista says: “What was that?” “I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” “Are you sick?”
That time when you’re chatting with a friend, and your voice cuts out and cracks, then dies.
That time when you’re calling across a street, and no one hears.
That time when you’re in a noisy restaurant, and you might as well just look into each other’s eyes. Continue reading
Ten years ago today (January 25, 2003), I fell 80 feet (24 meters) while rock climbing at T-Wall, a popular climbing site in Tennessee. The doctors said I might not live; when I did, they said I’d never be the same again. Today, not only am I “normal,” most people don’t even know this incident ever happened. This is my story.
T-Wall (image: flickr.com)
The sun was falling from the sky. Once it dropped below the hills, all light and warmth would disappear. The clouds were chameleons: yellow and pink and purple. Somewhere a bird twittered.
An icy wind crept into my jacket. I shivered. Beyond the edge of the mountain, a silhouette was standing far below. “Just remember what I said,” it called.
Just remember what he said.
I took a deep breath and leaned back. My harness cut into my jeans. I couldn’t feel my fingers.
Grab the rope. Loosen the rope. Hop, hop; braaake.
I looked at the complicated system of ropes and carabiners before me, then at the small tree the ropes were attached to up above. Here we go. All I wanted was to go home and go to bed. Continue reading