Man reaching top of rock climbing wall

Reaching New Heights

I didn’t plan on climbing the wall at at The St. James during our recent team off-site meeting in Northern Virginia. However, after many of our team members had climbed up and down several times, my Vice President yelled out, “Hey Peter, you’re up!”

Now, a hardworking new father in my mid-thirties, physical fitness had not been my primary focus for 2019. Alas, I had been challenged in front of a group of peers to do something that others had jumped the at the chance to do, some more successful than others.

My hands quickly sweat, my heart raced, and the apprehension of failure pumped adrenaline through my veins. My fight or flight had been activated, and I had nowhere to go but up.

It had been 20 years since the last time I climbed a wall, and the only advice I remembered from that boy scout retreat was “use your legs, not your hands.” Armed with only that advice and 30 of my closest leaders and colleagues standing behind me, I strapped into my harness and took my first step. I glanced up and down, quickly finding my next foot and hand hold. With each move forward, I analyzed which foothold would give me the most upside, worrying not where I’d hold my hand next, but how I would allow my legs to propel me up the wall.

In less than a few minutes, I had ascended to the top of the 40 foot wall with nowhere to go but down. From here, it was a leap of faith and a lot of slamming into the wall as I awkwardly twisted and repelled down like a flopping fish tired after a long fight with a talented fisherman.

According to Newton’s law of universal gravitation, every mass attracts every other mass in the universe. Therefore, if my fears weren’t strong enough to pull me down, there must be something much greater that I’m reaching for.

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