I have a fear of heights…and snakes.
I won’t go into the snake thing, and I’m not really sure why I have the fear of heights. I really haven’t had any bad experiences so to speak, but for some reason that phobia is most certainly present.
A couple of years ago (remember, I turn 65 on my next birthday) I went on one of those ‘leadership - team building’ retreats at a Boy Scout camp with a group of considerably younger community leaders. We did all of the typical introductory activities – icebreaker activities, trust fall, walking a ‘mine field,’ etc – which lead up to more physically challenging activities such as zip line, wall climbing, rappelling, etc.
My age, weight, and fear of heights played a huge role in my anxiety level with many of the more physically challenging activities.
With team support, I managed the zip line. The hardest part for me was climbing the tree to get up to the zip line…and the members of my team helped me get up to the take-off position. Riding the zip line was fun, kind of like riding a bicycle down a big hill; getting up to the take-off position was not!
Form a mental picture of army basic training and climbing a wooden wall about 8 -10 feet high. And now, picture ‘Granny Sue’ trying to climb up and get to the top of the wall! As a team, it was figured out how to help each in our group reach the seemingly unreachable goal of getting to the top of the wall. A few brave (tall and strong) individuals went up first; boosted from the ground by other group members. About mid-way in the group, I was boosted up by some from the ground and ‘pulled up’ by others of the group that were already at the top of the wall. The few guys at the end took a running head start to ‘run up the wall’ and those at the top reached out to grab their hands and pull them up as they had the upward momentum. Whew! A BIG cheer went up when we ALL had conquered the wall and got to the other side.
When it came time to try rappelling, I really became nervous. I had to climb up the 30 to 40 feet ‘ladder’ – for me, scary enough by itself - to reach the top of the rappelling wall. Then I had to TRUST my rope and gear to hold me as I rappelled down the wall. I kept hearing my son’s voice in my head saying, “Oh mom, you can rappel. It’s easy.”
Hearing his encouraging voice inside my head helped give me confidence. Once it was my turn to begin the descent, I felt like I was a whole different person as I quickly developed the rhythm of releasing a section of rope and bouncing down the wall, step by step. My confidence was soaring. It was so uplifting and comforting to have my son’s encouraging words playing in my mind as I challenged myself to face that phobia.
Is it possible that without realizing it, comments left on Vision and Verb posts provide a similar means of support and encouragement for our global community? Is it possible the ‘atta girls,’ the celebrations of successes, the group support, the ‘outstretched hands’ lifting us to meet new challenges, the virtual hugs, and all of the suggestions and conversations help each of us – collaborators and visitors alike - reach goals, face challenges, and…perhaps even soar to new heights? I’d like to think so.
Have a GREAT day!