Have you ever had one of those breakthrough moments where you know you are going to see everything differently from that point onwards?
I’ve just had one, at Center Parcs.
I’m convinced that they put something in the water in Center Parcs. It happened the last time I went too – you arrive and think that you’ve somehow landed in hell. Changeover day teems with people, bikes and cars hanging around waiting for their villas to become available.
But then, you wake up the next morning, drink a cup of tea and somehow you are converted. You spend the days cycling around, sleeping, playing sports, sleeping, eating, drinking, sleeping some more and finally being persuaded down a waterslide by your child. You spend dimly lit evenings swimming up and down in a huge lake of a pool all by yourself.
Also I climbed a wall.
Now, I’ve never done this before, because I’m scared of heights. I’ve known I was scared of heights since I was 6 and everyone else in my class was climbing up onto the big gym horse, walking along it and jumping off the end, while I was clinging on and crawling along it. But the reason I climbed the wall was because partly of this blog.
I started blogging a couple of months ago, precipitated by the breakdown of a relationship I was in. It was pretty civilised as relationship breakdowns go and my partner gave good reasons for wanting to end it. They were mainly to do with me as a person. This was quite hard to take at the time though, and what was particularly hard was to hear a description of myself that I felt was not me. But of course, it was me; I don’t have delusional partners; I had just become a person I didn’t recognise.
There are many reasons why this happened. Being a single parent for many years was a large part of it. I couldn’t have the things I had enjoyed before, so it was easier to stop wanting them than to want and not to have.
But it was more than that. As my children grew older, and more independent, I could have looked forward to a future life. But I was too afraid to let go of what I knew about living life. By the time I had started to let go, it was too late.
And so I ended up with a load of things I wanted to do, and no relationship.
I thought then that it would have been better to have stayed the way I was, not knowing or thinking that I was missing out on anything, than to be there with all these dreams about the things I wanted to see and do, but no-one to share them with.
That was when I started blogging. I wanted to share. And that was when I realised how good it was to have all these things back in my life again, theatre, books, discussions, films. It was like meeting up with the person I was when I was eighteen and found life so exciting, just because of the newness of everything. Life was exciting, one long round of opportunities, things you could do. If you could experience something, then why would you not? But this time, knowing what it was like not to have these things, I grabbed everything I could in a way I never would have done the first time round.
So that was why I climbed the wall. It was there to be climbed, to be experienced. The first time, I was clinging on for dear life, arms aching, limbs trembling with tension. I couldn’t even let go to abseil down from the top, and had to call down to the instructor to ask whether it was safe to do this, even though I 100% knew that it was OK and had seen loads of people do this before.
I got about half way up the first two walls, the easier ones that the instructor had kindly given me. I stopped at the points when I thought – if I go for that next hold, I will miss and fall. And so I stayed there for a while, half way up, crossly wishing that I had longer arms, before choosing to come down again.
And then I don’t know what happened. I think common sense just took over. I realised that if the 8 year old next to me could do it, there was nothing wrong with the length of my arms. And I realised that if I was going to do this, I had to get a move on. Because I wanted to do this, didn’t I? I knew what it was to want again…
I got to the top, sailed down, then went again. And again. And again. And by the end of it, the motion had become part of me, part of the excitement of being alive and experiencing something new.
I climbed a wall and I knew I wasn’t scared any more.