If anything has taken me out of my comfort zone to date, it is the flying trapeze. It is not the height, but the fact that you have to have faith in strangers that holds you back. Or is it the faith in myself?
My friends joined me at circus school to learn the flying trapeze. I thought we’d spend most of the class on the mats and then master tricks on a small trapeze close also to the ground. I wasn’t even close. We spent four minutes briefing, and I was sent up a fifty-foot extension ladder to leap off a small platform. The ladder was scary enough for the price of admission since it was at full extension and moved way more than I was comfortable with as I was climbing.
Then I leaned out from the platform and leapt. I’d love to say I wasn’t scared at all, but that would be a lie. I was terrified, but my friends were all standing there cheering for me, and the harnesses were there to cushion my fall. There was no option to step back from that ledge. There was only going forward.
I often think back to the time I went bungee jumping with my husband in New Zealand. This was long before we had kids and I reckoned I was a daredevil. I watched him drop, then got to the edge myself and backed away. ‘I don’t need to do this to prove I’m a daredevil,’ went through my head. ‘I just need to believe I am and it will be true.’
I think back on that moment often. The friendly lady I paid to hook me up to the giant elastic band, got me to that edge. She said 3, 2, 1 and I went. I am a better person for it. I know that sounds hokey, but stick with me.
It is a stretch to challenge myself (and most of my friends and family) to do fifty new adventures this year while writing a book, parenting, and trying to be a better wife. It takes thought, time, coordination, effort, patience, and drive. I haven’t had those in a while as I have been battling depression. So, this is my healing. I need to remind myself that believing I am well is not the only battle. I have to prove it to myself by jumping off that platform. I need to take that leap of faith and trust that my brain has my back, my safety harness (friends and family) are in place, and the net that is my doctor will make sure I don’t hit the ground again.
The leap is worth the reward. I assumed I would fail with my weak arms and my fear holding me back on that trapeze platform. I could call my first attempt a failure, but it was a win. I jumped! Sure, there were harnesses and nets and professionals and friends to make sure I didn’t hurt myself, but that is the point. That is the point.
I was never the person to ask others for help when I stepped up to the bungee platform. I haven’t asked for help my whole life. Having a single father meant I made adult decisions earlier than most. I helped raise my brother in many respects. I told myself I could do everything on my own and didn’t need others. But I felt alone in my fear. It has taken me almost fifty years to realize it is a small way to live if you think you don’t need help and support. I want to live big. Living big to me means admitting we are small parts of a large picture. Living big means creating a big net of support that will be with you in your adventures. A bigger parachute makes for a softer landing.
We don’t get another life, and our kids don’t get another mother to show them how to make the most of every day. We all need to understand it is okay to ask for help. It is okay if we don’t know everything. It is okay to fail as long as you take the leap and learn to fly as a result.
My Turning 50 Like a Boss Tip: You don’t need to be afraid to leap, if you have the help you need not to fall.
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