“Because it’s there.”
— George Mallory
Yup. That’s me up there.
What am I doing? Considering my options, I am.
You know the film Man on Wire? It’s about the guy who strung a wire between the tops of the twin towers in 1974, and then walked back and forth until the cops arrested him.
I recommend watching it.
This was my man-on-wire moment, sans polizei.
Here’s the view looking down from where I was:
Here’s the view looking up:
May I take a moment to tell you about the amazing new iPhone 5 camera? See how the sky and cloud color is as true as the rock? Just point and shoot. Perfect for the times your brain is no longer functioning.
WORLD OF WONDER
The night before, I got a call from Avi, the father of Nick’s friend Indar.
“We’re going hiking at Vasquez rock tomorrow. Indar would like Nick to come along.”
“What’s Vasquez rock?” said Nick.
“Only one of the wonders of the world,” I said.
I had no idea what Vasquez rock was, but I trusted Avi’s judgment.
“Okay,” said Nick.
“Wolf, would you like to accompany us?” Avi said.
“That was very quick, Wolf,” said Avi.
I was pleased with Nick for joining the expedition, not so pleased with my response to Avi’s suggestion that I come along.
I have a cubbyhole in my brain labelled J’accuse! Avi’s that-was-very-quick-Wolf now lodged itself there.
Exactly why didn’t I want to accompany my son to see one of the wonders of the world? There was no good reason. I just wanted the day off.
Later, Nick went to work on me.
“Dada, will you come with us?” he said.
I began to list non-reasons, then stopped.
What kind of father are you? In twenty years, will you even remember the thing you did instead of going to Vasquez rock with your son?
No, I wouldn’t remember.
In fact, you have nothing important to do tomorrow.
This is remarkably true, Obi-Wan.
I decided I was, after all, the kind of father who could change his mind.
“Of course I’ll come,” I said to Nick.
Vasquez rock is a popular backdrop for exotic film and television settings. It beats traveling to other planets.
They shot a Hunger Games-like Star Trek episode there. In it, Kirk (William Shattner, Ship’s Actor) found himself in single combat with a reptilian man of another galaxy.
Kirk mixed some gunpowder and wounded the reptile-man with a rock-shooting rifle, then balked at finishing him off.
“You have shown the advanced quality of mercy,” the game master said, and sent Kirk back to the Enterprise.
All this I recollected as we got out of the car.
Nick grabbed his canteen and headed off with Indar over a rise.
“Be careful,” I said.
I knew Nick had more sense than to get himself stuck on some ledge.
“What’s that trough off to the right?” I said to Avi.
“It doesn’t have a name,” said Avi. “The kids tend to stay away from it.”
“Have you been on it?” I said.
Even now I can’t say what made me do it. I’m far too
old mature for such mischief. And not in shape.
Oh, I’m not all that bad, said the trough.
You do look inviting, I said.
I’ve been waiting all day for the touch of a real man, the trough purred.
Excuse me while I kiss the sky, I said.
The rock was firm, with plenty of hand holds. Why, I didn’t even need to use my hands at first. My shoes gripped without sliding, and I walked upright half the way.
Tired, I sat, looking up. There were easy footholds almost to the top.
In for a penny, in for a pound, I thought.
At your service, said the trough.
And so I made my way, hand and foot, to where the photo at the top (taken by Avi’s wife, Mai) found me.
Better rest a moment, I thought. After all, you need to conserve your strength for the return trip.
I think, in retrospect, I was feeling pretty good about the fact that I was there at all. What’s a bit of rock to a dad who can climb the inner mountain of J’accuse?
The mistake, of course, was looking down. Which I did at that point.
All thought of movement left me.
“Are you all right,” Mai called from far below.
I think that’s what she called. Actually, I couldn’t hear her.
What would Kirk do, I wondered.
This is the first part of a two-part post. Part 2, Must come down
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