Posts Tagged: afraid of heights

My body is strong, who knew?

Strong

A few days ago I made a mistake. I went along on a fun family outing and it turned my day upside down.

We left home thinking we were heading to a Zipline course where we would zip from one tree to the next among a canopy of trees. It would be a thrill to fly fast through the forest, far above the ground. It would be cool in the green shade with the air rushing past. Two of our group were checking off an item on their bucket lists. Fun!

We arrived to find the “zipline” course was more of an athletic obstacle course, only one that was far off the ground. This “fun” activity would require strength, a lot of sweat, and result in shaking, wobbly muscles more than once or twice.

Here are the basics:834b96f2c6827cdd6891d25179458c8d

  • Five sections in the course
  • To start each course you climb a rope and wooden slat ladder to the first platform
  • Navigate from platform to platform in each section via a series of elevated bridges
  • From the final platform jump off! and zipline across a pond.

On the company’s website I learned: the highest platform is 48 feet, the longest zipline across the water is 700 feet, the longest crossing is 57 feet and the total course is 3,166 feet. It took us three hours to finish. The last ladder up was probably double the length of the first one.

I almost pooped out just before the last two rungs…

But it was FUN. It was worth all the effort to get to the end and zippppp so fast across the water. The view was spectacular and the thrill caused hysterical scream-laughing to fly out of me as soon as I left the platform, every single time!

I learned things about myself, too. Like when I almost pooped out right before the end of the last ladder? I had no other option but to gather whatever strength was hiding inside of me and use it. Sure, I could have climbed back down the ladder and decided I was done. In that moment the thought never occurred to me. I could have slipped off the ladder and taken a moment’s rest. I was harnessed in and would have been fine hanging there for a minute or two. Again, the thought never crossed my mind. I’m not sure if it’s because I am more stubborn that smart sometimes or because I never seem to allow myself the easy out, or that I would have been embarrassed to climb down and walk past the group of people waiting behind me. To be fair, it was probably a combination of all of that, but now I know that, by nature, I choose to keep moving forward. It’s something I’m sure I already knew about myself, but not to that extend. Any way I look at it, the reminder was a good one.

I also learned that I’m not afraid of heights. I always feel wobbly and nervous when I’m up high looking off the edge of a mountain or down into a canyon. I’ve assumed from that feeling it meant I was afraid of heights. But I didn’t have a bit of trouble looking down from way up there. I purposely did it. The forest floor and treetops, looking down from so high up, are beautiful. What I am, I discovered, is afraid of falling. Ahh! I was securely harnessed in and tethered onto a thick gauged safety wire with not one but two clips. I felt like there was no real danger of falling so it left me free to completely enjoy. It was so freeing! And what a cool way to clarify a tiny corner of my psyche.

Another thing I learned is that I don’t challenge myself nearly enough. Not physically I don’t, anyway. I challenge myself mentally and creatively on a daily basis. But I rarely put myself in positions where I need to work hard, strain and stretch my muscles. I assume I won’t like it much, but that’s the thing. I’m not terribly athletic by nature. I’m uncoordinated and I think it takes my muscles more time to develop that memory thing everyone always talks about with sports, so I usually opt out of feeling clumsy. But I definitely should not do that. I had a whole lot of fun on the zipline course and I would have missed it if I’d known what I was signing up for. I’m glad I was clueless!

The best thing I learned, hands down, is that even though I’ve packed on quite a bit of extra padding (FAT) over the past couple of years, underneath it all I’m still strong. I’ll be 51 next month. Aging is on my mind more than I like to admit, to be 100% honest. I don’t necessarily worry about it, I’m not a worrier, but I think about how I move now in comparison to how I moved a decade ago, two, three… I’m more cautious. I’m slower. I take care where and how I step on uneven surfaces. I feel weak and slouchy and round much of the time. But now I know under all that, I am still strong in my body. It’s a relief to me.

Why? Because I can still choose to up my physical game. My body will still allow it. My mind is all for it! Which is a little surprising to me, but I’m glad. I get bored in the gym. I’m not a fan of running (again with the boredom). I need variety, I want to be out in nature, I want to be able to run circles around my little grandbaby when he’s old enough to run and play.  I guess, in the end, I’ve learned that I’m ready to get moving again. Thanks, Universe! The search is on…