"What a stupid way this is to die."
I thought to myself as I squatted at the edge of a ledge in the middle of a jungle, strapped in a harness, tied to one single wire via a pulley---my life dependent on a couple of stoner dudes and a handful of carabiners.
"For real. If I die, this is my own stupid fault. I agreed to this. I said yes."
(Sometimes living what you preach ain't easy.)
I was zip-lining. I did not want to be zip-lining. I had no intention of zip-lining. Ever. (Zipping is also referred to as a "deathslide" ---for a reason!)
But my best friend treated me to this experience along with her whole family on the vacation to Hawaii I was co-opting and there was no turning back now (unless I wanted to waste all the money and look like a scaredy-cat.)
I adjusted my helmet ---like this pathetic little thing is gonna make a speck of difference as I plummet to my death.
"As a grown woman, I should be able to do this! The kids aren't afraid. Why am I?" I said to myself still squatting, a gajillion miles above land. Safe, safe, beautiful land. How I missed it so!
I had a choice: I say yes and I jump. Literally. And possibly die. Possibly, seriously. literally die. Because at this height, there are very few other ways this turns out.
Or I don't. I let fear make my decision.
I have always considered myself a jumper. I take chances. I'm a risk-taker. I tell a great story about jumping off a train in my youth. I JUMP!
But I'm older now, less reckless. I consider all the options more than I used to. I also have apparently developed a sincere fear of heights in my old age. All these things matter. A fear of heights matters!
The stoner, surfer dude asks if I am ready. I ask him to triple check all my connections and wires and other zipping apparati. He obliges me, again, smiling. I am not the first afraid to jump, nor will I be the last.
We are all afraid at one time or another. Afraid to move, afraid of a new relationship, afraid to make a change, afraid to take a chance. We have the option of fear all around us. In fact, we are encouraged towards it. Watch the news sometime---
Stormageddon coming! Deadly virus coming! Immigrants coming! Be afraid!
Fear is easy. Fear sells. Fear of people who are different from us, fear of different religion, different culture, different race. Fear of the other. Fear of ourselves. Like I said, fear is easy. It's jumping that's hard. Seeing and jumping...and trusting.
So I jumped.
As I was flying across the abyss, jungle volcano lands far below me, I loosened my grip on the wires just a bit to look around and enjoy the scenery from this vantage point. I tried to breathe.
"Look down at the lake!" Stoner, surfer, new-best-friend dude yelled at me from his own parallel high wire.
I looked and smiled. Beautiful.