Once upon a time I went to a small junior college in southern Utah. Admittedly, there were times when my friends and I skipped class and went hiking on the red cliffs surrounding the town and occasionally went rappelling off those cliffs because we were young and immortal. Yes, I was terrified of heights but I did it, anyway to prove to myself that I could.
Close to graduation, I met a guy who was in southern Utah, doing research for his Master's Thesis in Recreational Management. He was great guy although 4 or 5 years older than me. One night, after goofing off with other friends, hiking around and being young, he announced that he was so in love with me. He later told me that he wanted to marry me. He didn't go so far as to ask me, he was merely testing the waters. These waters were too young to want to do anything like limit myself and my dating pool to one man. Marriage was what I was trying to avoid. He married a lovely girl a year or two later and we all moved on with our lives.
Earlier this week, the counselors of our school took a group of students that we are training to be future leaders to a ropes course where they were tested on their problem solving, balance, leadership skills, and group work. The facilitators then took them aside after a rigorous exercise and processed by drawing parallels to life. It was awesome. I stood to the side, encouraged them then sat with them during the processing stage but mostly I just enjoyed their company.
Then the facilitators took them to the high ropes. By high ropes, I mean 40 feet in the air. There were three to choose from. I was dying to get on the humongous swing that you're harnessed into then a couple of handful of the students had to pull you up to the highest part of the arc then drop you.
Even the tough 14 year old boys screamed like a school girl. Like I said. Awesome.
Alas, we ran out of time and the leaders didn't get to go on the swing. So I figured I should do one of the high ropes, anyway. I climbed a 40 foot pole and stood on a tiny platform. Then you can either leap outward and try to touch the ring or you can jump straight down or simply step off. So I climbed up which turned out to be harder than I had anticipated. Apparently, my left knee has a touch of arthritis so it was painful climbing. Still, no way was I going to mention that to the young'uns.
Once at the platform, I remembered that I have a fear of heights and wondered how I was going to take that single step off the safety of the wood. Fortunately, I had many experiences of bungee cord jumping and rappelling from young and stupid years. I knew I could do it. I just didn't know how I was going to do it. But then the big revelation hit me and caused true fear to seize my heart.
In the years following high school graduation and middle age, I have become an accomplished curser. When completely terrified, I have been known to scream out a nice, solid farm word that does not belong in the mouth (or out of the mouth) of a junior high leader. If one slipped, I had no doubt there would be parents waiting to chat with my boss by tomorrow morning.
My job was at stake.
With deep concentration, I grabbed my harness, closed my mouth and jumped.
Wish you could have seen it. It was so awesome. But all I remember was my head saying, "Don't swear! Don't swear!"
I didn't swear.
And this is how I was able to jump into thin air from a platform 40 feet high.
There was an ego crusher. The owner of the ropes course happens to be the guy that was so in love with me back in my immortal days. I walked up to him and reminded him of my name and where we knew each other.
The best he could do was look at me quizzically and say, "You do look familiar."