Today, on this eve of a new year, I have an image from August burning inside my head: my first ziplining experience.
I remember a sense of utter dependency on the expertise of the person in charge of tying together my harness. Since Jen was a friend of my cousin who coordinated our adventure, and since she questioned knots and made fixes and adjustments to our ropes and gear, I felt more comfortable that I might not die from harness failure. (That outrageous wedgie, however, would surely show up in an autopsy …)
The major discomfort showed up not in my harness, but at the top of the tree house – the first launching pad. Our group consisted of three adults and two children – both of whom were seven years old at the time. One of them was my own child. He wasn’t the first to jump into the air and ride through the trees to the next pad. He was the second. And I hadn’t jumped yet – none of the adults had jumped. Suddenly, the children were “there” and we adults were still “here.” All of the dialogue inside my head about not going through with the ride ended there. I had no choice now. My son was “there” and I had to get “there,” too.
Then the dialogue shifted to ways to embrace the ride gracefully and without repeating a rock-climbing scene from summer enrichment camp just before eighth grade. There, I climbed to the top only to discover that my legs totally gave out and my knees were shaking. Uncontrollably. I was mortified. I don’t even remember how I got down. I did, obviously, but I have zero memory of it. This HAD to play out differently.
It’s funny how, as I remember that moment, I can see my whole self on the launching pad, as if I were watching it AND doing it at the same time. I sat back into the harness to become confident, at least, that I was securely tied to the wire. I fixed my eyes not on the trees and certainly not on the ground, but on the wire as I jumped off the first launching pad. I probably didn’t breathe for a few seconds, but I did squeal as I flew through the air, white knuckles and all. I’m sure it was by design, but there was an unfortunate camera set up on this first pass between tree-houses. There was a sign about two-thirds of the way across telling you when to smile, etc. I may have mustered one, but there was something FAR more important on my mind. I needed to nail the landing. For those seconds on the wire, I was some sort of gymnast, or an actress in The Matrix, and my “pay” depended on how well I could land. When I passed the camera, I smiled, but in my mind, I was a cat, and I was about to cheat death with a brilliant landing on my (paws) feet in that tree stand. I landed so beautifully, that the guide who caught me had to comment on it. “Why the heck didn’t they catch a picture of THAT?” I thought to myself.
Today is a sort of launching pad day, too. That’s probably why I remembered the ziplining experience. I’m one who believes that images that come to us – particularly ones that are so clear and detailed – are messages to us, and that we should pay close attention.
I’m not going to ruin things by unpacking everything the story/image means to me specifically. Instead, let me simply wish three things for you in 2014:
1. May you experience trust in new and thrilling ways.
2. May you discover your personal motivation precisely when you need it the most.
3. May all your landings be a perfect “10,” even if you look awkward and perhaps feel frightened while you are moving from point A to point B.
Peace and love to you and yours in 2014. Go with God,