Do you know what it feels like to fly?
I was reminded this week of the first time I ever rappelled from anything. It was on a special martial arts test. For part of the test my group had to climb, one at a time, up a tree to where a log was perched and straddling the distance across to another tree. We were all geared up in the proper equipment and had the safe climbing and rappelling instructions given to us. I was not the first to go, so I had plenty of time to tell myself this was no big deal. It was probably about 25 – 30 feet up in the air, but it looked more like 50 feet to me. Some of my group had more trouble climbing up the tree than walking out onto the center of the log. I didn’t expect to have much trouble climbing the tree, and I didn’t. What I had trouble with, when I got up there, was getting myself out to the center of the log. There was a cable strung above that we were clipped onto, paralleling the log, but it was loose enough that you wouldn’t want to try using it to assist in balancing. Nope. My reliance was in my equipment and one of my teammates down below holding the lines to belay me down if I fell. It felt like flimsy assurance at the time. All this ran through my head as I hugged tightly to the tree, trying to figure out how to make my feet move out onto the log.
I managed to take one micro-step out, and then another. And then… stuck. A voice from far below shouted up, “Heather, you have to let go of the tree in order to get to the middle!” Oh. Duh. I knew that. I just forgot for a minute. I let go of the tree and stood straight on the log. Once again, I was paralyzed and couldn’t move forward. Another voice shouted up from below, “It’s okay, you can do this.” And do you know what? I did. I walked out to the middle of that log that stretched across the sky between two trees. It was one of the most difficult fears I’ve ever faced. When I got to the middle, I knew I was okay. I took hold of my rope, as I’d been shown, turned around, and sat down into empty space and rode down to the ground. I don’t remember who was belaying me that day, but those voices still ring in my head when I have to face what seems to be an insurmountable fear. Sometimes I have to remember to let go of the familiar, safe thing that is holding me back. Sometimes I have to take a deep breath and remember that I can do hard things, and that there are other people around me who are cheering me on and ready to belay me safely down if I fall.
Gratitude #1 – Encouraging people who help me do hard things.
Gratitude #2 – “You can do this.”
Because of those words, I’ve hiked and zip-lined in China, Hawaii, and Provo, Utah. I’ve hiked Angels’ Landing. Twice. I survived the Subway hike in Zion National Park, and I hope to have many more adventures, including a tree canopy zip-line in Costa Rica (bucket list). Do I still get scared? Yes, but then I remember those four strengthening words, and I know I can do this.
This last week I moved my desk out of my bedroom. I should have known better than to put it in there to begin with. I’ve studied enough feng shui to know that is very bad to have a work-space like that in a place intended for sleep and relaxation. It is so much easier to sleep in a room that doesn’t constantly remind me of all the work that needs doing, and the flashing, glowing red and green LEDs lighting the darkness like dancing Christmas fairies. Even better, I moved the desk into our computer room, which used to be Grand Central Station in our house for everyone needing to use a computer. My children are going out to seek their fortunes these days, leaving that room uninhabited except for the dogs. Now my desk looks out the front windows of my house where I can watch the hummingbirds at the feeder, and the dogs can do the very important job of keeping me company while I write. I may still have struggles with my writing, but that desk is in a happy place.
Gratitude #3 – Sleeping in the dark.
Gratitude #4 – A peaceful place to write.
This weekend Mr. Hot Stuff and I went to a concert at the beautiful outdoor amphitheater at Thanksgiving Point Gardens. William Joseph was playing piano there with the American Heritage Lyceum Philharmonic. The music was as beautiful as the gardens we were surrounded by. It was such a pleasant experience that I will find another opportunity to attend a concert there as soon as I can find one. One remarkable thing I noticed, was that just as the sun set and dusk settled in, the flowers became more fragrant. To sit there on a blanket on the grass, with the music flowing around us, and the beautiful fragrance of the flowers on the breeze as it eddied and flirted with our senses made it an experience I will remember for a very long time.
Gratitude #5 – Beautiful music performed by people who love to share their talents with others.
Gratitude #6 – Fragrant flowers in a well loved and tended garden.
Gratitude #7 – The many opportunities my family has to experience the wide world.
This week Mei Guo leaves for her culinary internship in Italy. That same evening Arctic Boy graduates from high school. He has a summer internship working with the engineering team at ATL International. Casi returns home to her other family in Germany very soon as well. Forevermore, she will be a daughter to me and hold a place in my heart. My prayers will be with her, hoping that she will have the best of life, and give it her best in return.