Having climbed the limestone above the gently lapping waves, Nick found he could go no higher. As he reached for a promising ledge beside him some sediment gave way underfoot; he caught himself, just. For the first time he looked down to drowned boulders that could have been his deathbed.


About a year and a half ago I was on holiday with the family and decided (stupidly) to go do some climbing on the rocks around the beaches we visited. On one such occasion I got pretty high up without realising it and very nearly took a tumble into the shallow water and rocks below. Moments like that, looking into the face of a ‘near miss’ (or what George Carlin would call a ‘near hit’) are pretty odd; scary and profound all in one go. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me they feel like chilling an exploration into possibility. I play over and over again in my mind thoughts about the possible worlds in which I wasn’t so lucky whilst my heart creeps up into my throat. I almost see the alternate sequence in which things take a turn for the worse. When I think about that time climbing, I can feel myself falling, see myself lying in that water. And I feel, in the most lucid way, a sense of luck.

What’s more moments like this haunt me: Not in a hounding depressing sense, such that I feel I can’t escape them; theyre just there at the edge of my consciousness ready to pop up and show me a world very different. I was once skipping stones at a lake when a stone flew off at a funny angle and narrowly missed a toddler nearby. In my mind it hits every time and I feel a dread and guilt build in my chest as if I’m right there next to him, dumbstruck and full of regret. It’s a very odd experience to say the least, when you look into the abyss and it seems to look back saying ‘nearly.’

P.S. Those are Vibram five-fingers (classics) on Nick’s feet. You should get a pair, they’re beyond comfortable

2 responses »

  1. Grumpy says:

    George Carlin, RIP. George was a brilliant and controversial comedian. An all time favourite of mine. Mind how you climb!

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