Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had dreams of flying. There is something about being in the air carefree and having a vantage point from up in the sky that I find stimulating. I love seeing things from high and up above. In reality, I am afraid of heights. As soon as I look down from anywhere high up, my hands get iced cold and clammy and my heart palpitates so fast that I feel it in the core of my stomach.
Even though I have many fears, including the fear of heights, I seek experiences that get me out of my comfort zone and challenge me mentally. I think that makes life interesting – something that I value. However, I have not yet been crazy enough to skydive or go bungee jumping. I have made some progress and have climbed small hills in Sedona, climbed Skaros rock in Santorini (which was a very scary and emotional experience), but I’ve never actually got to fly. I have never built up to that challenge.
As I’ve been thinking about life and adventure, I recalled a documentary I watched many years back where a young woman diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer decided to document her final moments of life. She captured her journey of dealing with cancer, her highs and her low’s but she made it a point to live life to the fullest before the inevitable. One particular experience that I clearly remember, was when she took a trapeze lesson to overcome her fear of heights. She seemed so happy and I was envious. This is a woman who was suffering from cancer, but yet, I was envious. All I saw in that moment was that she was free- she was free to do whatever she wanted because this was part of her journey. This was a pivotal point for me – my perspective changed instantaneously. I thought to myself, any day can be our last. I need to live life like that. Why do we need to get to that point to live free? So, as I pondered on this memory, I thought to myself I want to do something that scares me – I decided to take a Trapeze class for my birthday. I was hesitant, but I convinced myself.
When my hubby (Juan) asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday I showed him a video. He smiled and encouraged me. He also decided to join me on that challenge.
As soon as we arrived to the venue, I began to experience chills down my spine. I looked up at that swing but I knew that there was no turning back. As the instructors tightened the harness, I looked up at the ladder and my heart palpitated hysterically. I was scared with excitement (if that makes sense!). I trembled as I went up the ladder and made it a point not to look down. As I arrived to the top, the instructor handed me the heavy swing and instructed me to lean forward – I thought I was going to fall over. But I kept my composure. I listened for the instructions to jump off and so I did. As I swung the instructor yelled out “knees up”. At that moment, I was supposed to put my legs over the swing and then let go. Failed! My legs were so heavy and I just couldn’t lift them up. I thought to myself “you are way over your head, you can’t do this”. But I was there for a reason and I was going to have fun. It was Juan’s turn and he did it perfectly. I felt inspired.
Juan hanging from the swing
The next time I went up I built the courage to look down. I was ready. As soon as I jumped off the platform and I heard “knees up” my knees went up and I was able to hook them over the swing. I then let my arms go and I swung freely – it was such an amazing and breathtaking experience – I felt alive.
BUT I was still terrified. I was tempted to not go again – all I wanted was the experience and I got it. But no, I wanted to keep overcoming the fear. So I went up again and again. And every time, I was able to get my knees up. By the end of the 2 hour session, I surprised myself. I wasn’t as scared and I was even able to pull off the final “stunt” of getting caught by the wrists by an instructor on the opposing swing. (just like in the circus!). This was an exciting experience and the reward was beyond my fear.
Earlier in my post I mention the girl with cancer. She actually ended up surviving and going into recession. All that time she thought she was capturing her final experiences before her death, but really, she captured herself living. Again, I know that there are many life challenges and life is unpredictable, but I have a goal of taking control of my life to live it as if I’m flying.