Between my wish to know how to be self-sufficient when devoid of creature comforts and having played adventure games where anything that looked like it might be useful probably was required in order to advance, I truly saw the world in a different light. I read survival handbooks in my adolescence and mused about new uses for everything I saw. I thought up hypothetical situations which might lead me to finally apply all the preparations I’d made. While I still find myself doing this from time to time as my mind is always actively operating on several different wavelengths, in my youth it was one of my most ingrained hobbies.
I don’t recall how old I was when I first made my “mountain-climbing rope,” but the notion of using the string for that purpose was so absurd that I must have been very young. I do know that I was outgrowing shoes right and left. Because they were still perfectly serviceable I felt wasteful for being unable to wear them and causing my mother to buy new ones. I began to take the shoelaces from my former shoes as that was the only thing I could think of to repurpose. These I tied together carefully, having learned knot-making. When asked what I would do with my shoelace rope, I imagined that – given the rate at which I cycled through shoes – sooner or later I’d have one long enough to climb a mountain! This excessively long string was, therefore, called my “mountain-climbing rope” much to my parents’ amusement. We lived in a flat environment.
My mother did not know until many years after the fact that I actually used this thing to climb down from a friends’ treehouse. It was 20 feet or so above the ground, and my shoestrings were in fact long enough. I tied the “rope” to one of the bars of the railing and began my descent. It was slow going and I was surprised at how it burned my hands (having never climbed down a rope – let alone a shoestring – before), but despite wishing for a pair of gloves I made it safely down. I don’t recall what ever happened to the “rope,” but I resolved then and there to never climb a mountain. I can say that to date I have upheld this resolution. For a long time thereafter, when I watched a movie or educational program featuring people climbing a rope I would assert that this was a difficult thing to do and strongly recall my own short climb.
When I told my mother this story, she laughed and said that I turned out okay.