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helping someone new to rappelling!

Have you ever rappelled off a cliff? I have loads of amazing memories of doing just that, and of helping others experience that scary thrill. (See pic above). Everything inside you says "No, I can't back off a cliff and just hang on a rope. I'll fall!"

It's all about "trust", something that I took a long time to do.

It started at Rattlesnake Provincial Park years ago when I tried to rappel over a cliff and ended up upside down.

“Let go of the rope” called Mike.

He was above my feet peering over the cliff’s edge. I saw my feet up there, or “foot” at least; my polio leg with the brace was just hanging out of sight. I was upside down, wearing something called a “seat sling”, with all sorts of things attached to me that I really didn’t understand. I was supposed to be rappelling down this rope that I was clutching for dear life - the life that I thought was about to come to an abrupt end any minute now.

“You’re safe, I’ve got you, let go of the rope”.

Was he kidding? Why should I trust him? Nobody had ever earned my trust, and this didn’t seem like a good time to go tempting fate and try it again. My arms and hands were getting so tired though, I couldn’t hold on much longer. What could I do?

“Sandy, trust me; let go of the rope. You can trust me”.

Desperately I tried to solve this problem but with all that blood rushing to my head, it just wasn’t happening. Resignedly I decided OK, I’ll trust him, and if the usual happens, well I die - and I let go.

Seconds later I found myself turning right way up, siting in the seat harness with the rope between my legs below me and the brake the rope went through in front of me. I had no idea then how that could have happened, but what I did know was that Mike had not lied to me; his big grin and encouragement was just above me, although the words he was saying weren’t really registering.

He slowly fed my rappel device some rope, and startled at first, I started to slip slowly down to the ground below and safety. Minutes later he had slid down the rope on his rack, and was standing beside me congratulating me, telling me he had been holding me “on belay” as I went over the edge so no harm could come to me. Wow, it was mind boggling. I had rappelled down a sixty foot cliff, and this person had made sure I was safe.

My paintings are often like that. They just "happen", surfacing through months or years of gestation, falling out on my page or canvas. Having made art all my life techniques are a given, and I don't have to think about them, so the painting can be born with a life of its own, as long as I "trust and let go".

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