Year of Fears: Part 1 Zip Lining in Panama
"The fears we don't face, become our limits." ~Robin Sharma
Have you ever thought about it that way? Until recently, I certainly hadn't.
I don't consider myself a very 'fearful' person. I usually look at obstacles as challenges to try and overcome. Big old mountain to climb? Let's go! Ocean to cross? There must be a way... Scary rock to descend? Let's find a way down. Up, over, under, around or through- there always seems to be a way. Life is an adventure and I want to experience as much as I can on my trip around the sun.
However, I, like most humans, have a few fears hiding under the bed and lurking in the dark corners of the woods. Confessions: Sky diving terrifies me, being charged by barking dogs paralyzes me and all my closest peeps know that I am a 'barfaphobic' (apparently the Google says it's even got a name lol, 'Emetophobia', so I know I'm not the only one!).
noun: fear; plural noun: fears
an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
But there are the awkward things too. The things that we aren't actually 'scared' of but that we tend to avoid anyways, simply because the thought of them makes us feel a bit uncomfortable. Near the end of last year, during one of my many long run streams of consciousness, I stumbled upon the thought that perhaps I should stop avoiding the uncomfortable things. That perhaps I had been tending to do so more and more frequently over the past few years. That perhaps it would be beneficial to actually face the awkward, uncomfortable, icky experiences instead of comfortably avoiding them. Icky thought. But a powerful one too.
'Why do the things that we avoid', you ask? Well, it is one thing to go after the moments and feelings that you love. I make a life of chasing experiences that will fill me up, feed my soul and bring joy to every cell in my body. But perhaps there could be as much to gain from sitting side by side with the things that you would prefer to avoid as those that magnetize you. Perhaps getting intimate with our fears would not only normalize them but also elevate our experience in the process. Overcoming the awkward, icky things that we avoid, stretches our edges and expands our perspective. We don't grow from that which we already know. We need to experience something new for that.
Then, shortly after my deep thoughts, Robin Sharma's, quote fell in my lap and I knew the reason I had to embrace the things I preferred to avoid. I don't want to be defined by the limits of silly, awkward things. I figured getting comfy just outside of my comfort zone would help me grow deeper into the person I strive to be.
And so, 2016 has become my 'Year of Fears'. Now now, don't go thinking you are going to see me getting all cozy with barfing. There is no need to cuddle up with THAT. But, I am working on changing my response to the things I would normally tend to avoid. When they come my way, I am getting to know some of them more intimately rather than crossing the street and heading the other way. And I am planning on making of few of them my best friends along the way.
And so...deep breathe, here we go.
Year of Fears: Part 1
Zip lining in Panama anyone?
I jumped into my year of fears with a belly flipping, mind bending 13km zip lining 'adventure' inPanamathat turned my legs to jelly. It's not that I am actually 'afraid' of heights...I did rappel out of helicopters to fight forest fires for a living for 5 years. Yet since 'retiring' from Rapattack my body abandons me when the ground disappears beneath my feet. I love the view and big spaces, but my body just can't hack it. I literally feel my legs go limp under me and the blood rush out of my head. I don't trust my body to do the right thing when I am near the edge. It really seems to have a mind of it's own and no interest in what I have to say at the time. Combine that with a massive control issue (yup, I know you are surprised) and zip lining while wearing equipment that I haven't personally tested or inspected and trusting my life to a Panamanian dude who doesn't speak English, was the perfect storm for getting cozy with my fears. And so...I had to do it.
Calculations told me my odds were good. Risk assessment proved to be quite low. Odds of survival quite high. Rationale moved me forward. Commitment carried me to the first platform. Eyes closed and just forcing myself to go through the motions got me off that first ledge. I was shaking like a leaf while I waited for my turn. Not at the very back, as I didn't want the chance to run. But not at the very front because I wanted to see what it was all about before taking the leap. I should have gone first so that I wouldn't have discovered that there was a speed element as well! Up to 70kms per hour and the risk of getting stuck in the middle of the line if you didn't go fast enough to make it to the other side. Speed became my mission. I was NOT going to be the one dangling in the middle of the cable on a rescue mission. Once it was my turn there was no going back. And so...
I sealed my eyes shut, put my hands where I was told to, let out all of my breathe and lifted my shaky legs off the ground.
And then, it was done.
Instantly I was zipping 50+kms per hour, 200 feet above the jungle rivers of Panama and holy shite was my body surprised when I opened my eyes! BIG space, BIG space BIG space! Warning! But it was too late. I had already done it. I was doing it! And my body couldn't do anything about it. It was at that moment that I experienced a remarkable, novel sensation that took me entirely by surprise. I gave in to the moment. I handed over all control and let go completely. I 'surrendered'. I had to. There was nothing else I could do. And with that moment of surrender, every muscle in my body relaxed and the weight of the world dropped from my shoulders. What would be would be and I was going to enjoy the ride. It felt so good!
Zip line to zip line they clipped us in and moved us along at near lightening speed. My body was in complete shock and my wee legs were literally shaking under me but they carried me on. I focused on the hand positions and the few techniques they had given us to use and zipped from giant tree to giant tree, taking in more and more of the beauty around me with each new line. Once I actually started to look around I saw Brad zipping past me on the next line, 200 feet off the deck and it just seemed so ridiculous that I laughed out loud. Little man, love of my life, flying across the sky with a go pro on his head. Hee hee. Together on this adventure...even better.
I didn't exactly get high on the adrenaline like those junkies do, but I got more than I bargained for. I did it. And I know I could do it again. I also know it was FUN! And most importantly I learned a wonderful new feeling...the freedom of surrender. Powerful stuff!
Check out my video link below for a taste of zip lining with Boquete Tree Trek in Panama!
Up next...January Skate Skiing and February Fitness Modelling oh my!
I hope that sharing my Year of Fears will somehow inspire you to saddle up with your own icky things...and I would love to hear what you learn along the way as well! What do you think...will 2016 be your Year of Fears too? Come on...what have you got to lose?