Not all the kids did it, but most of them gave it a try and from where I was standing, it looked pretty easy. They just needed to climb up a ladder, climb up a telephone pole, stand on the top and jump to a trapeze. And the climber was harnessed to a rope so if they fell, they wouldn’t go splat.
I didn’t think it would be so hard. After all, my 12 year old kid tried it.
So let me at it!
But it was hard. With every step up, it felt like gravity was pulling even harder down. Fear was quickly replacing my enthusiasm. I became fearful that I would slip, that my strength would fail, that I would lose my grip and crack my face or ribs on the pole. My legs were shaking. I was so afraid and I hate fear. Suddenly, while in the middle of overcoming this challenge, images of intensely fearful events from my life, popped into my mind. How dare those demons visit me now. It pissed me off. Then the more fear I felt, the angrier I got at it and with every breath, I blew out that fear. Then while in a mix of fear, anger, a few expletives, and intense focus, I climbed that pole and stood at the top. Well, you’d have thought I’d arrived at the pearly gates, because from up there it looked like heaven, and I drank in the moment. The cliffs painted in vivid golds and reds from the late afternoon sun. The crisp cold air as wet as the river below. I wanted to stay but was afraid I wouldn’t have the nerve to jump to the trapeze. So after a few thoughts on speed/velocity and the importance of gripping my toes over the edge of the top of the pole (which incidentally seemed the size of a pie plate!), I gathered myself up and leaped into the air. I would love to say that I had to jump through three flaming hoops and do a double flip before I reached the trapeze, but in reality, it was only about 6 feet from the pole. But to me, it felt 50 feet away and I was catching a thermal lift. In the blink of an eye though, the bar was rushing into my hands, I grabbed it and felt like a kid again. I didn’t want to let go. I didn’t want to have to be grounded again. I could have stayed up there a very long time. Who wouldn’t?
Patrick, the voice of reason, encouragement, and who held the seemingly thin rope connected to my harness, and therefore was literally the keeper of my life, gently encouraged me to let go of the bar and he would lower me down. And he did and once again, I was earthbound. Once again, I was the parent, the chaperone, the responsible one. The one who struggles to trust, to commit, to let go. The keeper of demons.
But the demons are smaller and I am stronger.