Rappelling is something I, as a child or young adult would NEVER have imagined I'd do. Growing up in the center of Minnesota in the 70s, there weren't many opportunities. Besides, I was terrified of heights. When I was young, we lived in an old farmhouse that had a summer kitchen with rotting old stairs leading along the side of the building up to the attic. My brother and I were both afraid of heights but we were also a bit competitive. So we sometimes would challenge eachother to jump from a step. We'd start by showing that, though afraid, we would be able to jump. Then the other would have to jump fom the same step. It started out competitive but we both inevitably cheered eachother on, feeling empathy for eachother in our shared fear. Ultimately we began to work together to help eachother overcome that fear. At one point we discovered that if we pretended a bumble bee was flying up behind us ready to sting, we could jump from higher steps than we had thought. This trick we learned to play on ourselves didn't cure us from the fear but it DID get us to not be parylized by it. (incidentally, my brother and I are the only ones of 6 siblings who rock and alpine climb as adults).
So, it was with amazement and delight that in my mid-thirties I found that I LOVErappelling and am quite a natural. Backing up to a cliff-face and stepping off is one of the most liberating experiences for me. I don't think I've entirely overcome my fear of heights, but I find that my trust in my equipment and my trust in myself is stronger than my fear of heights. This has helped me rock and alpine climb in some tricky places.
I am in a tricky place right now in my life. Feeling ready to launch onto the art scene with my prayer flags, I however am feeling hesitant. And I KNOW hesitation can be deadly in tricky situations. This ready to launch feeling however comes simultaneous to an immense life change that was thrust upon me and I am feeling very isolated and distracted by grief. I remember attempting to jump from the attic stairs once or twice when my brother wasn't there. Even the bee trick didn't help. The aloneness somehow stymied my courage. It took quite a long time for me to muster the courage myself, un-cheered-on, to jump from my record height.
I can think of a handful of times in my life when I was totally on my own and life called me to courageously step out into the unknown. Usually someone has been there supporting -- or taunting, both are motivating-- me. But it's not often I've done the courageous thing just because I deserve it.
Yes, I do think it's a worthiness thing. If I don't feel worthy, why would I risk for my own sake? Having to prove myself to someone or wanting to IMprove myself for or to spite of someone, has always been my m.o. This is a humbling realization. I'd rather not be this way. It seems like a weakness. Yet, here I am.
Recently I've been reading a book written by a childhood friend. She's actually the age of my youngest sister, 6 years my junior. Even as children, when she would go horseback riding with my sister, I could easily see she was a much stronger, clearer, more capable person than I. And I harbored a secret jealousy. I ached to be a stronger, more courageous person and she, 6 years younger was already in a place in herself I couldn't even imagine existed inside me. I had to trick myself to jump off stairs when she at 5 had started racing my sister each on horeseback across the fields.
The book is very well written and accounts the synchronicity in my friends life and her journey to deeper and deeper trust of that synchronicity and trust of the connectedness of All. As I began reading the book, I felt shame that the old secret envy came and sat alongside me (this woman, by the way is gorgeous, vivacious and an old soul). But I read on. And I look at my envy, my jealousy as I read. And I learn about Lisa and I learn about me.
I am still that girl trembling upon the steps behind the summer kitchen. Sure I've tricked myself a time or two into taking risks and have moved further in life. But I find myself right now on the tallest platform of my life, looking down. And I tremble. I hesitate. I second guess. I make up excuses and I procrastinate. I find myself wondering if I have what it takes to do this thing that is infront of me, totally forgetting that I'd had what it takes to get me in front of IT! It is a matter of trust. Again, I must remember and trust the equipement, the tools, and the steps and hard work that got me here. AND I must remember, and here reading Lisa's book is a great help, to trust the synchronicity and trust the connectedness of the Universe. Then, I must step off the edge.