Life as a Wall

A climbing wall. As you can see from the lead image even children can climb this wall.


Little tiny children.

Yesterday my daughter suggested going to a climbing wall in Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand. She said: Give it a try. I said: I am too tired. She said: But you must. I said: I have no shoes. She said: They hire them to you. I said: But they will be smelly. She said: I will buy you some socks. I said: But I am at a good place in my book. She said: Fine then. Stay at home.  I said: Wait for me!

At the climbing wall she hired a harness for me (she has her own) and shoes (she has her own of those too). A man came and gave me a deeply mystifying talk on holding the rope properly and parlaying it out and winding it back in and hands over hands and feet just so and  it slowly dawned on me that I was to hold the rope as my precious daughter climbed up the more terrifying advanced  wall of the building. I felt sure there must be some mistake and wondered if maybe one of the children next to me might not be better qualified.

But it was good, we worked as a team, she climbed – I did not drop her.


Then it was my turn.While she waited,  I was clipped on and  then she held the ropes and I looked up at the little children climbing the 50 foot high wall next to me and wondered about things. Climb, called my daughter gently. Follow the blue rocks.

And so I took a deep breath and with my daughter reeling the rope in as I ascended, I gently and gracefully climbed the wall. Right up. Then even further. My feet found the toe holds and my hands found rocks to tuck my fingers around and I hoisted myself straight up the wall. It is a little like chess or apple picking. You are always planning ahead, testing the holds, using each muscle to its fullest. Using your mind and your body together – actively. Overcoming fears and testing your strengh.  I felt strong and successful and grateful for all the fence climbing and bucket carrying that strengthened my legs and fingers. Then I stopped.

Just stopped. I had two feet firmly on two blue rocks, my hands were resting into comfortable holds, my muscles were not stretched or tired but I could see nowhere to climb TO. I was about four feet from the very top, far away from the ground  and I knew for an absolute fact that I was not going to make it. I looked down at my daughter and instructor far, far below and they both nodded encouragingly to me, I looked back up to the top and felt the very real dissapointment of failing.

Use your feet! My daughter called from far below.  Her voice whispering up in a curve. Your feet will lift you up. Step up with your right foot. I looked across to the side she was nodding to (she had her hands on the rope ready to catch me if I fell), it was too high, and the rock was tiny how would my foot stay on that and carry my weight and it was impossible to reach –  in close approximation to my ear actually. Are you sure? I called to the wall-  not willing to risk another look down. Try it, she said.

Try it.

So holding on very tightly to my two blue rocks with my fingers, I raised my foot high up off its safe ledge, clicked the toe onto the new  tinier rock and pushed myself up so my right hand could let go of its hand hold and reach for the next blue rock. And once again I was off, the switch had been thrown, I was no longer beaten  and I streamed precisely up the last of the wall and touched the top.

A tiny victory with such a strong message. I think rock climbing should be mandatory for everyone.  Life as a wall. the-029

Maybe abseiling next. They have lots of cool jangly gear.


In four more sleeps I will begin to wend my weary way home. But not yet. Soon I will go around the corner to stay with the new bride and groom.

It was a perfect day for a walk around the Bays today.aunty-043






I hope you all have a lovely day.

Your friend in New Zealand.


51 Comments on “Life as a Wall

  1. You have gone where I cannot follow. My head reels at the top of a tiny stepladder. It isn’t the height I’m afraid of, it’s the edge. I feel as if I’m going to be sucked over. I’m so in awe of what you’ve done! I think you’ll enjoy abseiling, but I’m told you have to watch out for uncomfortable pinching by the harness on the, um, undercarriage…

  2. Congratulations on your bravery. You will never ‘hit the wall’ again. You can always climb over it. After such a horizontal life in USA I’m not surprised that you were at first daunted by a vertical experience. I’ve seen the climbing walls in different places but have never wanted to go up one. Give me a cliff however, with a view at the top, and I’m away. I’m so glad Wellington turned on one of its stunning days for you.

    • P.S. I’m smiling at being near the top of the comments list. Usually I come in last.

  3. why do I feel so chuffed, so proud of what YOU have achieved buy climbing a wall…all I did was read about it and yet I could feel the tears of achievement in my eyes..welll done Celi…you are so clever…Have a great day xxxx

  4. There is always one more thing to learn. I would have been reluctant, but I hope I would have overcome that as you have!

  5. Oh wow, you’re so brave. I am afraid of heights. Just looking up or looking down from a tall building makes my knees go weak.

  6. Well done … usually fine with heights but the glass floor in the Sky tower in Auckland scared the proverbial out of me 🙂 Laura

  7. Well done Celi! It is a marvelous feeling to hit the top isn’t it! I’ve had lots of fun on climbing walls and cliffs. It started for me in high school when our gym teacher took us all up on the roof (YES … THE GYM ROOF OUTSIDE!) and we repelled down to the ground. I will never forget the first time leaning back out over the nothingness of air … to swing down to a ‘Spiderman’ pose. Be careful … it can be addicting … I can just picture a wall of blue holds added to the inside of your barn this winter! 😉

  8. Brava!!! So proud of you. But, you know, I’m not surprised you made it to the top. That’s what you do. You rise. Like a nice cream.

  9. Great job Celi , you made it to the top 😁. Enjoy the rest of your stay and maybe you get to finish reading your book.

  10. Great job Celi , you made it to the top 😁. Enjoy the rest of your stay and maybe you get to finish reading your book.

  11. Congratualtions Miss C-which can now also stand as “climber” in addition to your lovely name. Enjoy the rest of your time back in NZ, but it will be wonderful to see you home and hear of the farmy again.

  12. Oh huge congratulations! For a brief moment you made me think maybe I could even do such a thing, despite my fear of heights. Really proud of you.

  13. Good for you for trying and overcoming a new thing! Good for your lovely daughter for encouraging you. 🙂 Lovely photos of NZ as always. It’s a beautiful place. I especially like the rusty manhole cover in the street. Such a beautiful design for something so functional and ordinary.

  14. How cool is that C.? Didn’t it make you feel young and strong and that there is no limit to what you can do? And in this case…”the sky’s the limit” 🙂
    Beautiful photos of the bay and those little houses on the bay…they are houses right? I’m not sure what abseiling is but seeing all that gear reminds me of some window cleaners here all strapped up with their ropes and jangly things to wash windows in the high rise children’s hospital. Here’s the awesome part…they dress up like super heros, so the children can be cheered from their hospital beds! :))

  15. Ah yes, climbing. I have been where you’ve been – almost. My 19 yr old was dead keen on climbing for about 4 years, aided by the fact that there is a world class facility attached to our high school, just down the road. She climbed daily. She worked out almost daily. She ran when she didn’t work out. Everything had chalk on it. I worried about her toes cramped up in those shoes (like ballerinas with block shoes). I went along to a parent night and thought I’d give it a go – I’m OK with heights if my feet feel safe, and I thought, how hard could it be, someone holding you safe on the end of the belaying rope? And then. I got about halfway up the wall, not nearly as far as you, and stopped. Nothing was really wrong, I just couldn’t go further. I got a lot of encouragement from the ground and I still just couldn’t. Turned out I had a lot of trouble letting go of the wall to come down, too. I agree, a climbing wall is a great metaphor for life. My problem was trust, my unwillingness to rely on someone for my safety and my refusal to accept advice. It’s no wonder climbing gyms often get business groups using them for team building exercises.

  16. This is one of Miss A’s favorite activities. I took the kids to a place nearby and we spent hours climbing. Such fun! She wants to have a birthday party there next year. I’m glad you are enjoying the visit. I’m loving the pics.

  17. I was holding my breath for you and thinking “it doesn’t matter if she let’s go and freefalls gently to the ground, but I don’t think she will, she’ll look for another way”. And you did, and I breathed out and cheered for you. PS. I have just painted our new little shed that lovely green colour of the boat house in the last photo. Now I shall imagine it floating out to sea with all Big Man’s tools and bits and bobs 🙂

  18. Congratulations, Celi! A major major accomplishment. All your physical work on the farm really paid off. You must have terrific muscles. Not to mention guts. I know I wouldn’t be able to even begin to climb a wall. Love those colorful houses.

  19. Phew! I’m glad you made it back to earth in one piece. BTW How did you get down? I have two offspring and a grandson who climb, one in the Himalayas, so I know all about that heart-in-mouth feeling.

    4 sleeps to coming back? That has gone so quickly! Be happy, love, ViV

  20. When you get home and find yourself longing for another climb, drive on down to Bloomington and climb at Upper Limits. You’ll feel right at home there because you’re actually climbing inside a 65′ grain silo 🙂

    Beautiful pictures!!!

  21. Well done! I think my clean socks have nearly soaked up all the sweat they made while I read that. Your home country is so beautiful, I want to go there.

  22. I love the thought of having a friend in New Zealand! A beautiful place. Rock climbing would be a challenge for me! It does sound like fun. Give me a small mountain!

  23. Oh Celi – after all the climbing whilst lifting you do on the farmy you must have known this would be a piece of cake for you and you do it without harness there and without someone watching your every step 😀 !!! Glad you took that step also tho’ and if that is a photo of Sophie she surely is a beautiful, beautiful young woman! We have a number of those ‘climbing walls’ here and I have a lovely oldtime beau who is still doing them every week at 86!! Personally am sorry you are already practically on the way home but January is not too far away! And whoppee: fine skies in Wellington and some lovely pics! Enjoy Milady!!!!

  24. You are on the Good Husband’s page. He is passionate about climbing. A two hour drive and he climbs in one of the finest climbing areas. This summer was so splendid he managed to climb several days a week. Now the rainy season is upon us it is off to the climbing wall. He says “well done Celi. We are proud of you!”. XX Virginia

  25. I’m going to have to get over to LinkedIn and endorse you as a “Rock Climber”. That’s a rarity out here on The Plains.
    Glad to see your daughter is making sure you’re getting the most out of your time away. You may be coming home with one less suitcase but you’ll have a head chock full of memories, the best kind of souvenirs.

  26. There was a day I’d have loved to do that rock climbing, alas, no more, between a bad back, rotator cuff injury and very bad knees it’s not something I’d try now. Glad you made it to the top and that you’re enjoying your visit.

  27. Am so enjoying this vacation to New Zealand! Such a gifted storyteller and photographer! From someone who won’t get there,in this lifetime, thank you so very much for doing this. P.s. Had such a chuckle over the “middle sister/straight back” comment. Being the middle sister, I’ve seen that so many times!

  28. I have long contemplated ‘the wall.’ I used to be terrified of heights, but as I age, less so. Go figure. Lovely images, wonderful memories no doubt! xoxo

  29. I am not surprised you climbed right up that wall, goodness, you have been training for it for quite some time! (And didn’t even know it!)

  30. Aah New Zealand. Climbing walls and abseiling…I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned bungee jumping yet Celi! 🙂 Glad you made it to the top, but then again, I never had any doubt. A women who held down a barn in a gale wasn’t going to let a wall stop her. 😀

  31. So many wonders! (and yes, all should climb the wall – there are several here and I happily drove my daughter and her friends in middle school to play on one.) It is very important to dare.
    (and blue is such a nice encouraging color for rocks)
    There you have 2 things to tell a “Dear one” about life : dare and always jump up and say “wait for me” (giggles….I do need to actually get that letter started on paper instead of in fuzzy head)
    Enjoy all of it – enough to hold on to until next time!

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