The Prusik Knot

By Greg Baer M.D.

December 27, 2017

Occasionally you’ll see a movie where somebody throws a rope over the edge of a cliff or a tall building to a man standing on the ground below. Then he grabs the rope and climbs, hand over hand, to the top. While this maneuver is fun to see:

1. It requires incredible strength, which very few people possess.
2. Such strength can be exerted only over short distances, after which the climber fatigues and falls.
3. It’s very unsafe, since the slightest mistake can result in the climber losing his grip and falling.

Climbing a rope can be made safe, however, with the use of two Prusik knots, one attached to a climbing harness and the other to a foot sling. These are used in an alternating fashion to hang from and to push forward up the rope. (And no, it’s not easy to describe this in a few words, nor to actually perform it mechanically.) With these two knots to secure you to the climbing rope, you can safely climb great vertical distances.

Life is not unlike climbing a rope up a cliff. It can require great strength and endurance, it can be dangerous, and falling is an ever-present possibility. Having a rope and knowing the path are just a beginning. We need guides to help us over the difficult passages, to provide additional equipment, and to teach how to tie and use indispensable aids like the Prusik knot.

Many of us were taught that asking for help was a weakness, usually by people who made us feel flawed when we couldn’t do something on our own. But the truth is that we need each other. We need each other’s love, guidance, encouragement, wisdom, and more, just as a climber might need a Prusik knot. We must learn to find such people and enjoy life’s journey in their company.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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