I have a fear of heights. I cannot stand near the edge of a balcony even three stories high and lean against the railing. In glass elevators, I stand way back, close to the door and close my eyes. One time, I got stuck at the top of a Ferris wheel, and thought I was going to have a full-blown panic attack.
So why, oh why, did I sign us up for a 7-line treetop zipline adventure on our recent trip to Hawaii?
As in, ascending to a platform five stories high, stepping off the edge of it, and careening over a canyon at least 10 stories deep? And doing that six more times?
Was I crazy?
And, of course, before we left I started researching zipline safety on the web. Just to reassure myself. Right. That story of the woman who fell 150 feet to her death. Of course, she wasn't wearing a harness, and we would be. But still.
I had trouble getting to sleep a couple nights, let me tell you.
Oh, and then, the morning before our adventure, there was an article in the Maui News, delivered to our doorstep, on zipline safety. Was it a sign?
After we got our helmets and harnesses on, and took a couple pictures, I told my husband we could leave. Just show the pics to everyone; no one would be the wiser. You see, I had made such a big deal about our ziplining plans to everyone, I guess trying to seem daring and adventurous, that I knew I would be embarrassed to say I'd chickened out.
But, with fear and trembling, I geared myself up. We headed with the rest of our group over to the ramp and staircase, up to the first platform, high in a giant eucalyptus tree.
As I waited my turn, I tried to ignore the two adolescent boys, pushing and shoving each other, pretending to "fall" off the platform. (The fact that they were securely harnessed made no difference. I still pictured them plunging to their deaths, and somehow taking me with them!)
So my turn came. With shaky legs, I stood at the edge, at the edge of The Abyss.
That first step off was the worst.
But then . . . it was okay.
I hurtled through the air and somehow landed on the ramp to the second platform. Still shaky, my heart racing, but I had done it! I noticed, though, that I was grasping both safety lines with both hands as I awaited my next run, while the others stood casually around, hands free.**
The next run was a little easier.
By the seventh run, I was hands free, twirling around, and thoroughly enjoying myself!
Lesson learned? Face your fears. You just might be surprised.
I think I can handle a stalled Ferris wheel after this.
** Except one poor girl, on her honeymoon, and not very happy. She was very nervous, and clearly not enjoying herself. I heard her say to her new husband, without a touch of humor, "You owe me a present after this."