Every teenager considers themselves invincible. I know I did. The summer after I graduated high school was a time I thought I could conquer the world. Instead I conquered the Devil's Punch Bowl and developed an inner strength which stayed with me the rest of my life.
When I turned seventeen my naval officer brother invited me to spend the summer with him in San Diego. Of course I would go...I had spent my entire life in a town of less than 1500 people and now I had the opportunity to travel to the other side of the United States and visit the big city. Soon after I arrived, one of my brother's navy buddies took an interest in this small town girl and invited me out on a date.
I was naive enough to think all that first date would be was lunch and maybe a movie. Instead, John drove me to a national park near Los Angeles and there we took a "little" hike which lasted several hours. I had no idea where we were going but I blindly put my faith in a stranger holding my hand and the belief that I was invincible. Was I scared as I scaled that rocky terrain like some mountain goat? You better believe I was! I was on the backside of those mountains you see in that picture and there was very little space between the trail and the edge of the cliffs towering over the punchbowl canyon thousands of feet below us. (I found out years later some members of a rock climbing group fell to their death the weekend following the time I was there.)
Just when I thought we would never stop climbing that trail, we came to an area where we could sit and view the beauty below us. Sunshine and the sounds of nature surrounded us as I looked down into the valley. It was an incredible feeling of accomplishment to have overcome my fear of open heights, even if only for that moment, and I realized sometimes it's okay to let go of the doubt...to allow someone else to guide my footsteps...to give myself a chance to achieve a dream I might never have known was possible if I hadn't taken that first brave step into the unknown.
Writing is like that day at the Devil's Punch Bowl. It's all about conquering an inner demon and allowing the possibility to exist that there is magic within us, just waiting to be discovered. A whole world is waiting for our stories if we only take that first step toward publication. The terrain might be rough going and there will be times when we will need help along the way, but just imagine the life that awaits us when we reach the summit...