Summary: The second in a six-part series ‘Get Your Feet Wet.’
(Slide 1) In a book, whose title and author escapes my memory is the author’s story of rappelling down the side of a steep cliff as part of an outdoor learning experience. Now rappelling involves ropes, strong ropes, safety equipment, helmet, good shoes, and guts. It involves, going down the cliff, not climbing it, by using your feet and legs to push off the sides of the cliff and descend to the ground.
I distinctly recall the fear in this man as he began the journey down the side of the cliff. He froze.
His instructor he recalled quoted him the program’s theme, which did not help the matter at all as it did not address the inner panic and fear being experienced as you are suspended over the side of a cliff several hundred, if not several thousand, feet in the air. (Clichéd expressions just don’t make it!) Finally, he told the man to lean backward and push off as that was the only way to do it.
He finally got the hang of it and started to descend.
But in a few moments his instructor shouted, ‘look down.’ He did.
He was descending into a deep crevasse several hundred feet below him. He would have to change course to avoid rappelling into the deep crevasse.
Fear, as I recall, checked in again.
What he was instructed to do was to lean out completely so that he was parallel to the ground… far below… and then push off and swing out in a new direction and away from his current path of descent. In doing so, he would move to another part of the cliff face and then resume his descent.
He finally did so and eventually made it down.
But he had to work through the fear. For him, that rock wall (not to mention the height) was a wall of fear.
Last week I spoke of the fear of flying. I remember the first time I flew. I was about 6 or 7 and my dad and I drove to the private airport a few miles from my home.
He found a man cutting grass who agreed to take us up in his two-seat single engine plane… one at a time. I went first as my dad waited on the ground…by myself.
It was a fun and frustrating experience… I was too short to see over the top of the instrument panel. But I did see my house and I waved to my mom. (At least I think that I did)
Well then, we came back and landed and then my dad went up while I waited at the car… by myself.
(Moms, how high are your fear meters right now? Not to mention your blood pressure.)
When we got home, I said, “Mommy did you see me wave to you from the airplane?”
And I proceeded to tell her about our trip to the local airport…
I never rode in another plane for about 14 years and only then I was a paying passenger in my first jet airliner and my mother knew I was on the plane coming home to be in a wedding.
We understand (and my father certainly, I think afterwards, understood) the anger and fear of a parent.
Fear is sometimes an unexpected wall that comes across our path from time to time and when we do, we have a decision to make. To freeze or do make a choice to overcome our fear.