The Body Never Lies
What do I imagine would happen if I responded to pain with softness and vulnerability instead of self-recriminations about how I am not doing it right? Geneen Roth
Chains and iron stakes are embedded into the wall to assist climbers. But I was frightened. There’s only one way to reach the aquamarine pool that is the terminus of Mooney Falls in the Grand Canyon: scale down 196 feet of travertine wall – rock formed by thousands of years of seawater exposure. The wall contains dark, vertical tunnels and overhanging claw-like formations that look like the set design for the movie Alien.
Adding to my trepidation was my guide’s gleeful telling of how Mooney Falls got its name: in 1880 Daniel Mooney, a canyon prospector in search of silver, tried to descend the cliffs beside the falls and fell to his death.
Six years before this trip to the Havasupai Indian reservation – home of Mooney Falls – I participated in a ropes course at Boston University’s Sargent Center for Outdoor Education in New Hampshire. I was terrified then, too. And I mistakenly believed that forcing myself to endure the terror was its antidote.
Until Mooney Falls, I had spent much of my adult life shaking the proverbial whip at the young, tender parts of myself that would have benefited more from compassion.
The roads traveled between New Hampshire and Arizona helped me to take that journey of the heart and leave contempt for my fears behind. So, I chose not to climb.
In the late afternoon, the Mooney trekkers returned to Supai Lodge breathless with tales of exploration.
“Gina, why didn’t you do it?” asked one hiker. “You could have done that, no problem,” he said, referring to my fitness level as a marathon runner. I could have, had I been willing to drag the psychological equivalent of a frightened little girl behind me.
Instead, I walked away from Mooney Falls, then turned to my “little girl” and extended my hand.
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In 2008, I independently produced the audio version of my third book, Postcards and Pearls: Life Lessons from Solo Moments on the Road, read for you by the author.