Again it’s been a long while since I’ve written. Forgive me dear readers, life events in the past few months have taken precedence.
I was in the treetops on the weekend with a friend. An aerial park with ziplines and obstacles. I did not think twice about engaging in this activity. The first one in our group to go. I took on the cold metal bars of the high ladder, ready for whatever came my way.
The course was new to me. The first obstacle was a breeze with very little thought. The second, a set of moving wooden swings, where the goal is to cross by putting one foot onto the next swing suspended in midair with two lifelines between you and the ground.
I moved through the swinging obstacle swiftly. Midway through my brain caught up to me, with it came fear, doubt and if I had let it: paralysis. Thoughts came flying through my head: “This is scary and not so fun anymore.” “Can I do this?” “Am I going to be stuck here?”
As I moved on the committee engaged. You know the one. I have spoken of it here before. The itty bitty shitty committee. Thoughts popped up like: “OK that was not fun.” “Are there going to be more like that one?” “What if I freeze up and burst into tears and can’t move forward? What am I going to do then?” I had the perfect storm brewing.
Fortunately I chose my company well. My friend is tough, confident and more than capable of figuring things out. She’s also not prone to flights of emotion like I am. Half a dozen obstacles in I turned to her and said: “Why am I rushing through this like my life depends on it?” Her practical reply: “You didn’t have to go first.” Gee thanks, that’s helpful.
We had just finished a zipline and were on the ground. Ziplines are fun. I just have to make sure I remember to put my brake hand behind the pulley and not in front of it. Ouch.
The entire course took between two and three hours. We caught up to the group in front of us. All of a sudden the pace slowed. I started kibbitzing with the lovely woman in front of me and her daughter. I shared that my field is sports psychology and suddenly I realized the course was my mental training ground.
Trust does not come easily to me. I have been through significant life changes in the past few months. There have been many endings and losses to process. I am bruised, sore and still grieving on many levels.
I realized I was not doing a very good job of trusting myself or my equipment. We often teach what we most need to learn don’t we?
I pulled out my mental toolkit and started using some of the tools I impart to my athletes. I sang. A wonderful distraction method when something is not familiar to you. First in my head and then out loud. Why out loud you ask? Not because I have wonderful singing abilities but because I hold my breath.
I have spoken about breathing as a tool here before. Suddenly everything slows down. Breath connected to thought, connected to feeling and finally, to action.
I’d like to say things got easier as we went along. The reverse occurred. Fatigue set in. I don’t know about you, but I do not hang from my arms every day. Midway through my arms felt like jello with the shakes to go with. I also made the mistake of not eating properly before I left, energy dropped as a result and cold set in.
Luckily I was well surrounded. I had an excellent guide on the ground. He climbed up an obstacle and made things easier as I struggled across. The following zipline I started going backward because I did not have enough forward momentum. As I’m hanging off the obstacle, my arms screaming in protest, holding on, I am yelling for my treetop mate ahead of me. Thankfully she comes back and grabs me while I unceremoniously drag my caboose up onto the platform. Not fun.
Every now and again I’d stop and look around me. Here I was in the forest, surrounded by color, the smell of fall tickling my nose and the sun playing hide and seek with the clouds. I would look down and think to myself: “I would much rather be hiking right now.”
I tried to make the most of the outing. I’m sore and bruised in the strangest places today but grateful for the experience. I was able to trust myself enough to make it through while enjoying the company of those around me and the feeling of flying through the air surrounded by beauty.