Last week I went rockclimbing with a friend on the cliffs behind Lake Louise. At the base of one of the more difficult pitches was a slender Asian man standing atop a small stone slab. He wasn’t even looking at the wall of rock before him; he didn’t have to. He reached for invisible wrinkles and folds in the air, crimped his fingers around them, and pulled his body towards them. His torso twisted one way, his leg swung the other. He bent, and flexed. With his eyes closed, and without moving from his perch, he performed a full-body rehearsal of the entire climb.
When he was ready, he stepped down from his slab, clipped onto the rope, and executed the single most impressive climb I’ve ever seen. He was fluid, flowing. At no point did he hesitate, or fumble for a handhold. The holds he needed appeared when he stretched his fingers towards them. He swam, vertically, up the rock face.
In fifty days, I’ll be in Asia, and The Human, Earth Project will begin. It won’t stop for six whole months. If I stare up at the wall that towers before me – a wall spanning tens of thousands of kilometres – it seems like an impossible feat. Then I close my eyes, and picture each individual face, each village, each dusty bus ride. I see myself moving between them, from one to the next, and count to one hundred. I’m ready.
And I know, no matter what happens next, it’s going to be an amazing ride.