I learned a few things about myself on the ropes course over the weekend. For example, I used to think I was a little nervous about heights. Now I know that I’m actually terrified of them. Strange, since I spent much of my childhood climbing really tall trees, but I never tried jumping off of them. Just looking down was enough of a rush for me.
That knife that twists in my stomach when I’m up high looking down? Apparently not everyone gets that.
Nonetheless, I like to face my fears. I don’t like saying or even thinking the word can’t, so if something scares me I’m even more determined to do it. Also, I was sure it couldn’t be as difficult or scary as it looked. For goodness sake, there were 12 year olds making a good go of it!
All the way up there, huh? That’s really high.
“Just to make sure we’re clear: I don’t care if all the kids think you look like Jesus. You drop me, I kill you before I hit the ground.” OK, I didn’t actually say it, but doesn’t it look like I’m thinking it?
Up the pole. This is the easy part. I like climbing. Climbing is fun. Climbing is my favorite part. Why can’t we just have a course that goes up? Why do we have to have the down parts?
Oh, we can actually use the safety rope to balance? In that case, this part isn’t as hard as it looked.
Now to cross the cables. Difficult but not so scary, even if I don’t lean on the safety harness. Walk on the bottom cable and hold the upper one. The upper cable comes down and joins with the one I’m walking on, so balancing becomes more and more difficult. Then another cable rises from the one under my feet, and I tranfer my grip to that one as I continue to slide my feet slowly to the left, one at a time.
Slow, slow, sloooowww…I am totally focused on keeping my balance. I have tunnel vision. All I can hear is the reassuring voice of
Jesus Dan at the other end of my safety rope, and I have no idea what he’s actually saying to me.
I’m past the hardest part and feeling more confident. The hand cable is rising instead of falling. Now I can speed up. Oops. I lose my balance and my feet shove the lower cable straight out. I throw my arm over the upper cable, catching myself before I fall. That’s gonna bruise (it did – I have a big nasty group of bruises on my inner arm), but at least I can climb back up without aid and finish.
Made it! Almost done!
Just across this pole, switching handholds from one dangly rope to the next. Harder than it looked from the ground, but refreshingly easy after crossing the cable.
Did I mention how high this whole thing was?
And a quick jump off a perfectly good solid platform into nothingness. I like ziplines, but this? I was shocked at how hard it was to make myself jump. I wasn’t just sliding off the platform with a zipline handle in my hands. This was a leap of faith. There was a lot of slack in the harness that ran between me and the cable, and this was my first experience with freefall. I stood there for 15 seconds that felt like an eternity before I finally just mentally shut my eyes and jumped.
I let out a whoop on my way down, but Perry insists that it sounded more like a scream of raw terror. It was a whoop. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
After that, it was on to the so-called Pamper Pole.
Did I really promise to do this if Perry did? Did anyone actually hear me say it? Unfortunately, there were witnesses.
Fine. I’m almost done anyway, right? I like climbing. Going up would be relaxing if I wasn’t haunted by thoughts of what would come next.
Those gymnastics lessons 28 years ago are finally paying off. I’m scared silly, but I could stand here all day. Balance is not a problem. Actually, I can’t stand here all day. Eventually that old guy holding the other end of the rope will want to go home.
OK then, on a count of 3…
Oh, you said 3 already? Once more. 1…2…
Well, maybe next year.