There’s this river about 30 minutes from my town here in Portugal, that has this incredible view and atmosphere. The water is the purest form of euphoria, and I guarantee that nothing will ever compare to it. I’d often go there when I was younger, one year I dropped a cellphone into the water. The next year I jumped off the wrong rock and fell onto my knee.
The thing about this river, is that it comes with a difficult climb. The older I got, the more afraid of it I became. Cue the perennial fear of heights, and bad hand eye co-ordination. Last Summer I decided to stay true to the three words permanently scribbled on my arm, and climb to the river one more time.
Despite the fact that I said I would never do it again.
Once you start walking down towards the river, you come to terms with the drop and count every step you take. I used the beat of a Red Hot Chilli Peppers song to help me walk down so I wouldn’t miss a step. You test out the rocks before you climb onto them, and continuously do so until you’ve reached the larger ones. Then you climb onto them slowly.
Side Note: It helps if you wear proper running shoes while you do this, not Vans.
I think getting down to the river is the easiest bit. Once you drop your bags and throw yourself under the waterfall, it’s as if the last 20 minutes didn’t happen. It’s peaceful. The water is completely protected by mountains, and rock. The first jump into the water, is like listening to Dark Blue by Jacks Mannequin for the first time.
Once the day passes, and it’s time to pack up and go home you’re faced with the reality that is, climbing all the way back up. Last year, I spent majority of the time stopping and sitting until I knew that I could no longer do that. The last 10 minutes are spent slipping and sliding to the top of the mountain and back onto the road. Digging your nails into the dirt, pulling your body weight up, and not looking down. Not looking back, just fighting to get back up.
Not even focusing on the fact that your throat is closing, and your hands ache from how hard you’re trying to hold on.
Once I got to the top, I didn’t appreciate all that I had conquered behind me. There was just a soundtrack of muffled tears, and coughs. Sure, my legs are cut, and bruised but I bruise easily, and eventually they’ll heal. I could feel my heart beating through my fingertips, I could feel everything. I’ll talk about the importance of that in my next post.
Last year I swore I wouldn’t climb it, but out of impulse, I decided to give it one more chance. This year I politely refused to do it, and instead did something else that would make my heart race. I picked up a microphone again. I stood on the edge of a mountain and looked down until I could feel my heart in my throat .
I realized that climbing the river, is kind of how I give my heart to people.
I hesitate doing it, and then I’ll finally take the plunge. I’ll become stubborn at some point, and refuse to stop until I can no longer breathe. I’ll fight, I’ll curse. And I’ll suffer in silence until my hands finally reach the pavement
And I can only release a scream loud enough to rupture a vocal chord .
Scary, isn’t it?
Until next week