Point of No Return

When I make the choice to go passed the current clip on an outdoor sport-lead route, I am making the choice to go to the point of no return. I cannot “take” (pull the rope tight and take a rest on the current carabiner) for comfort anymore. At this point, I cannot find comfort unless I continue to climb with focused and effective confidence OR I fall to the last clip for a painful “take.”

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If it was an easier climb, then I would just conquer the moves between the clips with dexterity and will. But, what if I can’t find any hand-holds or any supportive feet? What if there is an extremely hard move in between the two clips? When the point of no return contains a point of resistance, I find myself frozen in hesitation and doubting with anticipation. Should I go? Can I make it?

When I go passed the point of no return and hit a point of resistance, I want to run back to comfort or “feeling good” again. This breaking point (the 1st mile of a 3 mile run…or the panic to not be high after already eating that edible) is at the very core of my anxiety. When the deed is done and I cannot go back to safety anymore, I freak out because I feel stuck. I get claustrophobic in my situation and try to think about how or do everything I can to get out of it. I scream inside, “how can I feel better?!”


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It is amazing, right? To not feel heavy pain. To have a controlled environment with limited unknowns. Driving back home on a Sunday to no responsibility. A hot shower after camping for two days in the wilderness. Coming home to a partner who loves and sees you. Being in a cozy bed when falling asleep. It is soothing. It feels safe. But, there is a catch.

If I run home crying or try to avoid the resistance before reaching my goal or completing the experience (like if I told my belayer that I don’t want to finish the climb and to “let me down”), then the comfort I end up with is lost on me as it cannot pierce through the dependence, self-loathing, anxiety, etc. Comfort is not fully valued or soothing until I accept this point of no return as it is, face this point of resistance, and push forward with unique and creative action for the new scenario in this new moment.

Side Note: If I can verify that I am in extreme danger (like I see lightening happening all around me as I am mid-climb), then it is not comfort anymore that I am chasing…it is survival…so I will tell my belayer to “let me down” without regret. Also, too much of anything is not productive. Comfort follows this same trajectory.

Living in the Context with Choice:
The point of no return and the point of resistance happen in the present. It is nearly impossible to face it when stuck in the past or plotting out the future.

Overall, living seems to be more about being in the present anyway; creatively and uniquely acting within the details of this new moment by engaging in the verifiable facts. Life is never exactly the same as the moment before. Conclusions, procedures, and habits that are rooted in the past or anticipated for the future are always dead upon arrival…unlike the life inside of me and the life out in the surrounding world.

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I have spent so much time in my life trying to create a formula to live by so that I can manage “feeling good all the time.” It has left me in circles of neurotic stress, frustrations, anxiety, and confusion.

As that entitled belief to feel good all the time becomes more conscious, slowly fades away, and is let go into the dissolving of my past, I will be replacing it with the belief that living is about engaging in the context in front of me. And, while there, I will be accepting each point of no return as it is, facing the resistance, and pushing forward with unique and creative actions for distinct and unrepeatable scenarios.

About Kevin Carlstead

I graduated as a hospitality and psychology student at University of Denver. I spent most of my teenage and young adult years in the hospitality industry. I am still searching for what industry suits my personality and talents so that I can feel more meaning throughout my days. My current career pursuit has me enrolled in a graduate program to become a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I was born and raised in San Diego, CA. I love music with something to it. I love life with something to it. I have made it one of my purposes in this life to integrate both of these things that I love. This blog and my own songwriting has given me the platforms to do that very thing. Thank you for reading.
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1 Response to Point of No Return

  1. Eugenie Carlstead says:

    Wow. Piercing insight with the immediacy and precision that comes with direct experience and genuine reflection. Thank you for sharing your authentic and caring voice.

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