Thursday, June 06, 2013

Climbing at Hornse Vaart

The swimming pool near our house has a climbing park. At least a year ago we saw it get built and since the weather is finally smartening up, we decided to go and try it out. Being stiff, sun burned and sick from being at the beach a few days earlier didn’t stop me from participating. However, I did manage to underestimate the intensity of what we were signing up for.  A bunch of wood and ropes never looked all that intimidating as we passed by it every day on the highway.

Its four level obstacles of climbing, swinging, balancing and hanging from ropes and planks wasn’t the only attraction. There was also a climbing wall, two ziplines and a small bungee jump-like ride included.
 “I don't feel very brave!” I told Kees numerous times as I shimmied along behind him. The whole thing is held up with big metal wires tied to big central tree-trunk sized wooden poles. Each pole has a small platform base to rest between obstacles. The poles were at severe angles and shaking more than I thought necessary and I just didn’t even want to ask if that was meant to be like that. In my mind they were swinging and on the verge of snapping in half.
“I’m so scared!!” I kept shouting, hoping it would help the fact that I was terrified and stuck up in the air.
 Everyone is strapped into a harness, given a helmet and secured to a zip line so falling is not an issue. The first level was only inches from the ground and we ran through it with no problem, but when we got to the second level I suddenly realized how tricky the whole thing was and it became much more real.
(The “Why am I constantly doing things that scare me?!” face)
I never anticipated it to be as scary as it was! It really doesn’t look that bad until you’re a million feet up there hanging on for (what feels like) dear life.    

(It looks like I’m balancing on a wooden plank but it’s really only a thin wire)
Looking down as I tight-roped across one segment, I was shaking and peeing my pants before I thought, “Okay, this is ridiculous. I can’t believe how powerful fear is.”
It was so intriguing to me to see how fear was physically holding me back. Fear is what makes you fall and fail.
“I can’t believe how stupidly scared I am! Fear is such a weird thing isn’t it? ‘Cause I know I’m not going to die or something… but the more scared I am the more likely I am to fall because I’m shaking so much.”
I wanted to study fear and figure out why it makes us weak when it’s all in the head and it was so easy to relate it to everyday life and achieving my goals. Fear does one of two things, it either keeps you stuck in one place or pushes you backwards; anywhere but forwards. I began analyzing my “symptoms” and the fear kind of drifted away once I recognized what it was.

Despite thinking I was certainly not going to do the third level, I found myself walking up the wooden tower towards it determined to get to the bottom of fear. When I saw that just ahead of us there was a small partially handicapped boy whose left hand started at his elbow and he had no thumb, I was immediately impressed and inspired by him. It was already so clear to me that fear holds us back on a much greater scale than just a silly climb park… and seeing that boy showing the world and himself, that nothing would hold him back, especially not his small handicap, really moved me. I was so glad to see him getting out and setting such a positive example in the world. I’m so grateful to people like him and I was so happy that he wasn’t letting that or anything else hold him back.
Once I let go of the fear it was so much fun! It was like being real live Mario characters for a day!  Then it simply became a matter of muscle power and patience to get me through. 

By the end of the day we were completely exhausted, our hands red and callused and every muscle killed, or at least mine did! Not only was it fun, great exercise and a new experience, it was a lesson in fear. Lately I notice that fear is the main obstacle I face in my writing so it was great to have this day to show me how fear is such a big influence. It’s important to be able to acknowledge the fear and realize that it’s what’s holding you back. If you can acknowledge that and find a way to eliminate it, you’ll be surprised how much smoother things will go. It’s amazing how negatively it can affect your abilities and hold you back from accomplishing your dreams.


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