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Climbing - Climb To The Top

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PostPosted: Fri 13:53, 25 Mar 2011    Post subject: Climbing - Climb To The Top

Ever since I was young, the trees called to me. I loved to climb. About halfway down the street from my childhood home, my best friend, Peter Esposito, had two large evergreen pine trees in his front yard. They must have been well over 50 feet tall. As a daily ritual, we would crawl under the skirt of those trees and climb the spindly branches towards the uppermost reaches, scraping our legs and arms, and come down covered in sticky sap. There was no purpose to climbing the trees, other than to get to the top-- and then look down at the world around us, look out at the world around us.
I want the Angel’s perspective, to sit up high and see below, to look out and take it all in, to see the networks of nerves and patterns of people coming and going and being. I want to see life occurring.
A few years later, I was climbing the lilac tree in front of our house. I was near the top when a branch broke, and I fell halfway down. Luckily, the tree caught me-- literally, ripped into me-- and I hung there by my torn flesh. I walked away with a beautiful scar underneath my right arm that I carry to this day, as a reminder of the price we sometimes pay when we climb.
In Greek mythology, we learn the tale of Icarus, son of Daedalus, who tried to escape from the island of Crete. Daedalus, an inventor, created wings made of feathers bonded by wax. He warned his son not to fly too close to the sun. But Icarus, in his impetuous youthful vigor, ignored his father’s advice and flew too high and close to the sun,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], causing the wax to melt and the wings to fall apart. Icarus fell to his death in the sea below.
Ever since, we have heard warnings of flying too high, climbing too high, running too fast. Every scar on my body is the result of ignoring these warning. I received seven stitches down the middle of my forehead when I ignored the directive not to run inside the house. But I simply had to prove how fast I could go!
As a youth, I was obsessed with height, or at least with getting higher up. I wanted to go to the top of the Ferris wheel and see what the world looked like all around me; when we visited downtown Chicago for the first time, I wanted to go to the top level of the Sear’s Tower and look through the telescopes. It was no different in New York, standing on the observation deck of the Empire State Building.
I remember climbing the ladders in the back alleys of buildings to get on top of the roof, just to be able to see the landscape from a different perspective. I remember an odd obsession with bridges crossing over roads and rivers, and looking down at those paths below me.
Now I fill my days climbing endless flights of stairs that lead me to no tangible or concrete destination, but merely a figurative one-- they are the upward path towards personal success, personal achievement, personal betterment. To this day, I prefer my cardio to be from the higher perspective. I like being able to look down and see the whole floor around me, to take it all in at once. “After just the first fifty flights of stairs, my breath won’t stay inside me long enough to do any good…. Where I’m at is one of those stair climbing machines…. It’s the mystical sweat lodge experience of our time, the only sort of Indian vision quest we can schedule into our daily planner. Our StairMaster to Heaven…. Around the one hundredth floor, it all comes clear. The whole universe, and this isn’t just the endorphins talking. Any higher than the hundredth floor and you enter a mystical state.” (Salvation, Chuck Palahniuk)
Raven is going through her, “I can’t quite walk, but dammit, I’ve learned to climb over everything” stage. She climbs for the sheer sake of climbing. The effort doesn’t matter-- in fact, the effort is the fun of it. She hasn’t yet learned that motionlessness is easier, is nicer, is calmer. She is still a ball of unyielding energy, excitement, investigation. She climbs over an obstacle to see what’s on the other side. She climbs over furniture to gain a new perspective, to investigate. She climbs to prove to herself that physical obstacles are not enough to stop her, that she has the power to rise above them, to fly closer to the sun, melting wings of wax be damned. When we walk outdoors, she points up at trees. She likes to be held up high, to see things from elevated vantage points. She, too, will soon be atop the Ferris wheel, and falling out of trees, and marking her body with stitches and reminders of her own.
As we get older, we become more cognizant of the fall, and we become afraid. We know the consequences, and the pain associated with the scars. And we stop climbing. We stop trying to get to the top of the world, to the sun, to the highest possible perch. We tame ourselves, and lie down instead, because the ground is safer.
In another Greek myth, the god Helios lent his chariot to his son Phaeton to pull the sun across the sky. Phaeton, unable to control the chariot, nearly crashes into Earth and sets it aflame, and at the last possible second is knocked out of the sky by one of Zeus’s thunderbolts.
But Phaeton took the chariot of the sun, and Icarus approached the heavens with his wings. And Raven successfully scaled my leg. And all my scars have healed fine, all these years later.
As such, I will gladly hand her the keys to the chariot.
Warning: kinda’ crazy, but also kinda’ cool:
-David A. Johnston

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