Thursday, August 18, 2005

To Face one's fears

Nancyhas us addressing our fears, and then she graciously adds some psychoanalysis to each comment-I believe she has a paypal account arranged, so, you can deposit your $130.00 for each session there. :) Most therapist, and people for that matter, get lost in my head within a few minutes, so there is a very large "enter at your own risk" sign at every portal. My heart is a far more inviting respite anyhow, all are welcome.

Now, on to the fears.

I loathe the feeling of open space beneath me. To say I fear heights would be a misnomer. I do fear heights, but only when I can sense that I am aloft. I have no problem rising 50 floors, so long as I don't have to look out of windows. I will not walk on catwalks, street grates or the floating concourses of the Mall of America, you can imagine the pains I go to in order to avoid the floating floor constructed from glass block. I like to travel, but hate airplanes, primarily because I can feel the open space under my feet.

For me there is often a thin line between uncertainty and fear. I skipped back and forth across that line a hundred times before my first couple tri s this season. Can I do this? I don't know if I can do this. I fear I won't finish this. Everyone will know I couldn't do this. Who exactly is everyone? 4-800 strangers? My husband? My family and friends? Would they love me any less if I didn't complete a race. Wouldn't even be a blip on the radar screen of their conscious mind. Once I realized the shame of failure in racing is fairly well isolated within my own head I realized truly the only thing I had to fear was fear itself. What about that shame though? My resolve to survive has been so thoroughly tested that who I am or what my value might be is never jeopardized by failing in a race, it's only enhanced by crossing the finish line. Believe me, there are worse things then quitting a race on a bad day. Contrast this with the no quit chip in my brain which refuses to stop running at all costs, and well, there we are, lost again, let me give you a road map out. I can't quit. Quitting is dying. So, tread heavy, tread light, tread well, tread pained, but continue- always. Not for fear of failure, but for fear of dying. And for fear of not living well.

They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Sometimes, it just doesn't kill you.

Last summer I had an encounter with a previously mentioned woman for whom I have absolutely no regard. Flat out, she is cruel. She looks and presents like Aunt Bee, so a wolf in sheeps clothing. She had very sharp teeth and didn't hesitate to use them. She is the type of person who gets you to expose your soft underbelly, because that is where she likes to feast the most. Adequately pictured?

I arrived at our annual sojourn to family camp bleeding and fairly disoriented. Good people are priceless, and I re acquainted myself with some good people there and then came "the jump". Why I signed myself up for this test of will I'll never know, it was insane.

You begin by hiking a mile straight uphill to a place called "pulpit rock" breath taking views. Well, they would be if the hike hadn't already exhausted all oxygen supplies. At the top of pulpit rock, a 35 foot outcropping, there is a ledge. About 20 feet out and 10 feet down from the ledge is a trapeze bar. To reach this trapeze bar you first must climb 40 feet up a tree on metal spikes, where you reach a zip line that you must tie onto from your waist harness. You then zip 25 feet across to pulpit rock where you are then untied from the zip and retied to a safety rope. You then toe the ledge and take the leap of faith, out to the trapeze bar. If you miss, you "Crouching Tiger" into the trees, kind of cool, and if you catch the trapeze, wild cheers.

So there I was at the foot of pulpit rock, contemplating life and the worthwhileness of trust and living forward, asking myself what the hell I was doing here. Pretty much every componet of the leap of faith terrified me. So, I talked to the Creator of all the beauty that surrounded me and told him I thought I was pretty much done with trust and people and that I was fairly well content to live the rest of my life a hermit. Since He didn't create me to be alone, even said it wasn't good, I told him that if he would help me take that leap of faith, I knew he could help me leap back into life. Then I began to watch the other leapers, and with each leap my resolve grew weaker. I quit. I packed it in and began to walk back down the hill. I didn't get very far before a man caught me and asked if I had jumped yet. I told him no, and that I didn't have the nerve. I don't remember exactly what he said, but I remember his eyes, and the next thing I knew I was harnessing up. I climbed that tree and perched on that little branch knob, hooked myself into the zip line, crossed to the ledge, and I leapt.

My fingers brushed the trapeze, and I floated out into the trees, that was actually pretty cool-but I liked that scene in the movie (if you haven't seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon it's great but you have to watch it twice to make sense of it).

Sometimes what doesn't kill you doesn't make you stronger, sometimes it just lets you know it's ok to be alive.


Chris said...

You and my fiancee would get along just fine. She doesn't like walking across "gappy" stuff either. :)

Great post, BTW. Sometimes it's nice to have a little fear running through your veins. With fear comes adrenaline and if adrenaline in your veins isn't a thrilling feeling, I don't know what is!

nancytoby said...

Whoa! That photo scares me just looking at it! But then I note the strong resemblance to SUPERWOMAN and I'm very, very impressed!!

Run toward the sound of the guns!

Flatman said...

Nevermind the fear...look at those ripped calves!

Just joking...I am afraid of "heights" too. Not being high...falling from high.

Spence said...

This is really good stuff. I can relate to so much of it. Thanks for sharing in such a heart-felt and personal way. I'm glad you took the leap!

Vertical Man said...

Great photo, but Holy Cow!