Recently, I took as stay-cation (that’s cute slang for “we didn’t go anywhere exotic or far from home”) with my husband and son. This was supposed to be a relaxing time where we all hung out, swam in the pool, skipped the housework and generally just enjoyed each other in a way that we usually don’t have time to do. Little did I know… one day of our stay-cation was going to challenge me more I’ve been challenged in the past ten years!
“Mom! Let’s go zip-lining!” my son enthusiastically screamed from the back seat of the car. We had just passed a huge billboard with a picture of a smiling teenager hanging from a rope high above what looked like teeny, tiny trees below. “Sure, Cole. Of course we can do that during our vacation some time…” I answered. Basically, I knew that we had made lots of plans for our seven days at home together and I was sure this would be one of those that just never came to fruition. I was banking on that.
Cut to an anxiety ridden three days later and we’re actually driving up to New Hampshire to the brand new zip line course that has been installed on Mount Sunapee.
“You OK?” my husband glanced at me as he put his hand on my knee. He knew that I really didn’t like physical challenges – much less, physical challenges that had anything to do with being up way high or not being able to back out at any moment.
“Oh yeah, I’m fine. I’m just going to take a nap, ” I said as I leaned my head on the window to my right and desperately tried to relax my breathing. In the past (fifteen years ago) I’ve been known to hyperventilate and almost pass out. I tried to keep the memory of that at bay. I started counting yellow cars. I asked myself why I had ever said I would do this… Regardless of whether or not it was going to come to fruition, I really never should have agreed to go, I told myself.
As we pulled into the parking lot at the bottom of the mountain, my hands started shaking. What if I wanted to turn around? What if I got out there and hated it? How do you undo a zip line? Can you go backwards or climb down or something? And how do I go about getting out of it without setting off my son, who has already said “I’m scared of heights Mama, I’m not really sure how I’m going to do.”
Finally, after a chair lift ride up the mountain in which I panicked and tried to call everyone I know via my cell phone as a distraction technique (keep looking at your phone, I told myself – don’t look down!), I found my husband Kevin, my son Cole, two college students, two twelve year old girls and two very stinky (don’t they shower on the mountain?) “guides” along with myself atop the first platform ready to go. This was it. I was either going to do it here – or I would have to get myself back down the mountain via some other method (which would be what… running? Walking? Sledding down the grass?). After the two college girls went and girl-squealed (for the benefit of the stinky male guide I assume) from one platform to the other it was my turn. I just felt like I needed to get it over with.
“Alright, Danielle here you go!” the female (and most smelly) guide sang as she clipped me on to the long, LONG line. Silence. I could feel the eyes of everyone who hadn’t gone yet on my back. I could feel my son – NEEDING me to go so that he could feel safe himself. After all, in his eyes his Dad is the thrill seeker. His Dad is the skateboarder, the P90x-er, the surfer and I’m the lovey-dovey one who meets all his emotional needs but never gets in the pool. I certainly have never been out there proving the strength of my will and my body through thrill seeking. Then, I thought about how much I used to push myself physically. I the captain of my track team, I did women’s Ice Hockey in high school (OK I didn’t love that, but it’s physical!), I’ve run long distance, hurdles, I’ve even done one season of P90x… but this was different. I had to trust. I had to have faith. And this is what I had been worried about for the three days since we had decided to really make this happen.
I checked my intuition – I “felt” like everything was going to be fine. Not like I hadn’t checked my intuition nine zillion times about this over the past few days – but the message never changed. It was always “Go for it Danielle!” and I knew I needed to do this to show Cole, my eleven year old baby, how far you can go in life when you had trust. But did I really have trust?
Rather than hem and haw at the edge for the platform, rather than wait and ask a hundred questions and have B.O. girl re-check my harness over and over, I decided that I was just going to go for it. I lifted my right foot a little – as if I was going start walking up some imaginary steps. It hung in the air – there was clearly no step (and in my head that was the problem). I turned and looked back at Cole. He was feigning confidence for the girls who were a year older than him, but I knew his success really depended on what I did in the next moment. I turned and saw Kevin. His expression was priceless. I think he thought it was encouraging, but all I saw was “are you REALLY going to do this or did I just pay $65 per person for a long walk down a tall mountain?”
Finally, I did it. I took that last step onto the air. Less than a second later, I was screaming to Cole as he faded into the distance “Cole, this isn’t so bad! It’s really fuuuunnnnnnnnnnn!”
Over the years, many of you have heard me say “worrying about the future will get you nowhere” and most of the time I’m able to adhere to that. I love that I’ve so often been able to master that lesson (notice that I said “so often”). And this experience was an example of why NOT living is the moment is NOT something I want to do again. The worry, the fear, the anticipation, the sleepless nights… they made the experience so much harder! I kept referring back to the fear of falling, the fear I’d come up with that I wouldn’t be able to get down once I started… all of these thoughts I had concocted over the past three days. They only held me back. Luckily, with that last step, all of those fears flew right out the window!