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.
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…
Everybody seems to be doing the “list” thing these days. Buzzfeed started it; I think that’s how it went, anyway. But then everyone else followed suit. It’s quick and easy internet fodder, ammiright? And unfortunately, clever gets mistaken for talent online all day everyday. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying there aren’t some entertaining lists out there. I’m just saying I have a problem with the trend.
A list is a way to say something, but without putting a whole lot of heart in it (not to mention soul). That’s super sad. Me? I like to get at the heart of a thing.
Now, I’d be lying if I claimed I’ve never been entertained by a list like “10 Organ Recipients Who Took On The Traits Of Their Donors” or “21 Hilarious Tweets That Will Make You Question Everything.” However, I can honestly say I only go to sites with lists like that when I’m irretrievably bored.
This list thing that’s overtaken the interverse is also sad because, well? It seems so on-trend with the direction America is taking these days. They’re bundled up cheap thrills that keep us occupied from otherwise having any kind of productive, provocative or creative thoughts.
This morning I thought I’d try to dump that premise – the one that says we’re becoming less productive, provocative, and creative because things – on its head and ask: WHAT IF I write a story in list form? Hmmm, interesting… Besides, I’m always up for a challenge, so here, uhhh, for better or worse, is my first try at it.
(It’s certainly not the best story I’ve written, but I’d say it’s not completely smelly-bad for a first try.) What do you think?
All of my life experiences put together could surely have converged to break me, heart and soul. But I am a strong woman, and I am fortunate for it.
If I were a religious person, I might believe the words “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength but with your testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” I’ve never read the bible, though, and I only have a vague idea of who Paul was. For that and some other reasons, God quotes are not my thing. Buddha is more my speed:
He is able who thinks he is able.
I am strong, not because God thinks so. I am strong because I think so. I feel that so much more deeply. I am responsible for who and what I am. And I choose strong.
I absolutely have my weak moments. I’ve stumbled and fallen. I doubt myself all the time, but ultimately I know that I will face any challenge I come to and find a way to come away from it whole. Plus, hopefully, I’ll come out stronger and wiser in the mix.
It’s interesting, I think, that this time in history, we are made to believe that strength should be a constant. As though, no matter what we face we must prevail. From the moment a life trial begins, it’s already on the way to its end because we are/must be just that strong. It’s a dangerous construct, that one is.
I cannot be strong 100 percent of the time. I am not a robot. I am a living, malleable, emotional human being. With that comes the fact that I will have moments of strength equally with moments of weakness. The part that matters is who I become in the end.
I may be weak today or tomorrow, or for all of next month, but ultimately I must become stronger. Why is that? Because I choose it. And I have the power to make it so.