Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Climbing, flying, and letting go

As I mentioned in my last post, this weekend, I went away to camp.  It was a fabulous weekend, organized by the babysitting co-op that I'm a part of, but open to other women in town, so it was a great group.  We talked together, laughed together, played games, climbed structures and flew through the air...

The great group of ladies that I got to hang out with all weekend!

The climbing and flying came about from doing a high ropes course and a giant swing.  Let me just say that, if you've never done activities like this, you should.  They are awesome.  Part physical, part mental.  Sometimes, it seems like it should be easy, but it's not.  Sometimes, the physical part is easy, but you have to convince your brain to actually let you do it.  Getting past the mental barriers is often the most difficult part.

First, we did the high ropes course.  The first element involved climbing up a series of cross shaped "steps" in teams of four. The first couple levels weren't too hard.  We had to make sure all of our team made it up before progressing to the next level.  Then the levels got further apart, and it got harder.  We started giving each other legs up and then the last person had the hardest job, since there was nobody left to give them a leg up.  At a couple of the levels, I was the last person.  On the previous level, I'd hoisted myself up with my arms, but this time it was further apart.  I tried to get my leg up, and that didn't work either.
About halfway up
The words "I don't think I can do this," came out of my mouth.  In that moment, it was like I sealed the deal.  My mantra lately has been "if I believe I can, I can."  Rhonda (one of my teammates) came down, and gave me a leg up.  Then, rather then try to hoist herself up, like I had, she kind of swung herself up.  I wonder, perhaps it could have been different if I had said "how can I do this?" rather then "I can't."  Having said that, I'm also not about dwelling on past mistakes.  I've looked at the situation and next time, I'll choose a different thing to say then, "I can't".  Time to move on.

We continued climbing until we got to the top.  Once we figured out how to do it, we just kept going.  The platforms got smaller the further we went up, but it just meant we had to get a bit cozy as we went up.  I may have bruises all over my legs, but I got to the top!

The next high ropes element was to climb up a pole to a small platform.  This one was physically easier, but once you got to the top, it was a matter of balancing up there and trusting everyone.  You had to trust the people you were at the top with and you had to trust your belay team.  Truthfully, I thought the likelihood of falling was pretty good up there, but you had to believe that even if you fell, you'd be okay.

The next big activity was the giant swing.  This challenge is almost entirely mental.  It isn't that "hard" to get strapped into a harness and hoisted 75 feet into the air.  

It isn't that "hard" to release yourself so that you start to swing. 

 But, man, it is hard to just let it happen.  

This was my second time doing the giant swing.  (I'd done it the at the previous year's retreat).  I am not particularly afraid of heights.  I am a bit of a thrill seeker.  I also am pretty good at acting like I'm not afraid of things, even when I am.  (Long ago, I discovered that acting like you can handle something is the first step to convincing yourself you can.)  

Even so, this was a challenge.  I also added an extra challenge for myself.  The challenge to let go, and not hold onto the rope I was swinging from.  Remarkably, this was even harder to do then releasing the rope in the first place.  Yet, it was exhilarating.

Flying through the air.  Nothing to hold onto.  Just letting it happen.

Now, I consider how I can apply it to my life.  I am afraid of a lot of things.  My biggest fear is always the fear of failure.  I'm afraid that if I give something my all, and it's not enough, that I will never succeed.  

Interestingly enough, recognizing this fear was the very thing that prompted me to dip my toe into the world of triathlon.  I made a decision for once to give something my all, to try something that I didn't know whether I would succeed at.

It's been a year and a half since the day I made that decision.  I succeeded in my original quest.  My first goal of completing a triathlon (any triathlon) was something I was capable of long before I had the chance to do it.  Now, I'm faced with reality that I need to risk more, tri more.  See how much I'm capable of.

Let go.  And Fly.


  1. Wow just Wow! What a great weekend!

    I can't wait to watch you fly!

  2. All that looks like fun. I just need to be really sure that the people on the belay team outweigh me. Really really sure.

  3. What a great message in this post

  4. I LOVED this post. That weekend looked like a total blast. Your progress on your journey is a complete inspiration and your insights on it even moreso. Can't wait to see how you fly as you progress.

  5. What an awesome experience!!!! Not to mention all the ways it taught you how you can do anything!

  6. Fantastic post about an amazing adventure. Your thoughts on fear really rang true for me - it's pretty much an exact echo of my day of treetop trekking & ziplining this fall. Amazing what you can accomplish when you break out of your comfort zone...but oh, so hard to make that mental leap!

    So proud of you. Can't wait to see what comes next!