I consider myself to be a fairly tough person. Just the other week, someone told me they were really afraid of me for the first two years of college, but they were glad to find out that I am "actually a nice person." When I got my first tattoo, I told jokes the whole time, blissfully unaware that the needle creating the image on my ankle should have been hurting me very, very much. One time, in preschool, I threw a block at the face of a boy who told me girls belonged in the kitchen. Not even the threat of the time-out chair could convince me to back down.
Like most people, however, I have my Achilles' heel. For me, it is my fear of heights. All of my tough-talking exterior disappears when you make me get up high. Thus, the scene I caused at the rock climbing wall last week. While I did eventually conquer my fear to the point where I could jump off the ledge, I definitely would constitute a liability on an actual expedition.
I bring this up because what struck me while reading Annapurna was how surprised the climbers seemed to be at how hard the climb actually was. From the comfort of my overly heated dorm room, I wanted to scream at them, "It's an 8,000 meter mountain, OF COURSE IT'S HARD. Stop drinking so much tea and figure out what you're going to do." To my often overly analytical brain, what these climbers are attempting often seems "stupid." But then I realized that a healthy dose of "stupidity" might be the only way to get yourself up a mountain, or in my case, off a ledge.