Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bucket list

One of the items on my bucket list is to overcome my fear of heights. It keeps me from hiking on even wide, flat trails if they have a dropoff on one side - like the Hoodoo Bowl at Bryce, or the simplest of glacier walks at Paradise on Mount Rainier, or the Airport Butte trail in Sedona.

Anyway, on our drive yesterday from Seattle to Whistler, BC we stopped at the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver. I'd heard - in National Geographic Traveler, I think - it was a place in the world you need to see. So I decided we would stop and walk across that bridge, 250 feet over the river, plus traverse the seven other suspension bridges in the rainforest within the park. I told Art I wanted to do this, even though the admission is $30. He didn't say anything, but I knew the price committed me to the crossing.

Usually, when I'm approaching a high place, I prime my terror by looking down. This time, I remembered my old friend Kris saying, "Don't look down" when I froze up on the Mount Rainier trail. So instead, I looked across, to the other side of the bridge. I crossed the bridge one step at a time, my right hand firmly on the cable, my eyes fixed on a tree on the other side. And, lo and behold, Linda has now walked high above a river on a suspension bridge!

It was like last year in Turkey when I went for a hot air balloon ride. I said yes and I had an unexpected experience. In that balloon we traveled to places we couldn't have gotten to any other way. Goat trails. Plateau meadows. Pigeon houses. All because I said yes.

Don't look down. You're not supposed to be terrified. If you look down you will be so terrified you will turn around and go back to the safety of where you've already been. And you will not have the new experience. And you will still be afraid.

Thinking about responses to my post about my ESL class, I note that no one said, "Do it the easy way." That sounds a lot like "Don't look down."


#1Nana said...

Just this morning I was thinking about writing about being fearless, which I am not but would like to be. Girl, you are fearless! Good for you! I admire your willingness to challenge yourself. I need to find some of that courage.

Teresa Evangeline said...

Nice pic. Congratulations! Way to Go! And, a hot air balloon ride in Turkey? I'm green with envy! That's almost a life-altering adventure right there. You would be well on your way to having too much fun...if it was possible.

Linda Myers said...

Another item on my bucket list is to embrace risk. As Art and I were eating our ice cream cones in Whistler Village this afternoon, I said, "If I could live my life again I'd take a little more risk." Then I said, "Guess I can do it moving forward from here."

I will be fine if I remember to say yes.

Jann, if you can get on an airplane, you can cross this bridge.

Teresa, we did our Turkey trip with Rick Steves' company "Europe Through the Back Door."

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Was the hot air balloon ride as scary as the bridge? Because I think I'd like to do the balloon and like you (or, as you used to) I have terrible fear of heights.

Linda Myers said...

Here's what I've written previously about the hot air balloon ride and its impact on my life:

Here's a story about fear. I have always been afraid of heights. I knew when we were in Turkey in April on a Rick Steves tour that there would be an opportunity to take a hot air balloon ride. I had no interest in that AT ALL. Then, on the plane between Seattle and Amsterdam, I watched Jim Carrey's movie "Yes Man", about this guy who had a boring life because he always said no. He went to a seminar about saying yes and decided to always say yes. Needless to say, he had funny, crazy things happen, but his life got much better.

So on the first day of the tour, our Turkish guide said, "If you're considering taking the balloon ride, sign up." So I signed up for me and my husband Art. Then, four days later, when we were in Cappadocia, the guide said, "The balloon guy will be downstairs tonight at 5, for those of you who want to sign up." Remembering Jim, I signed us up.

I thought in a hot air balloon you'd go up high and hang there in the sky for an hour, thinking about how far down you'd fall if you fell out, or if the balloon popped and you fell. That didn't appeal to me at all. But that's not how it works. You drift gently, silently up. Then over the countryside. The pilot has a LOT of control over the balloon. We were sometimes ten feet above lovely hillside fields, descended into valleys with fantastic geological formations and old cave houses and lifted quietly out of them. There were a couple of times when we were too high for my comfort, so I looked down at my feet during that time.

What I learned from this experience is that if I leave my job, or if I rely upon a Power greater than myself - in other words, if I say "yes", it's not going to be a high, terrifying flight - it's going to be full of possibilities for new exploration, for spending time on my interests and passions, for being of service. Maybe a part-time job, maybe volunteerism, maybe trading houses with another family for a year, maybe joining Americorps.

If I say "no", I get to stay on the ground and never change how I look at the world.

Teresa Evangeline said...

Linda, I really appreciate your additional thoughts on the balloon ride and what it means. A perfect metaphor for accepting and facing life's challenges and for stretching our limits to see what we're really capable of.

Deb Shucka said...

What a great story, and what an amazing picture. We hiked Angel's Landing in Zion a few years ago for the same exact reason you did the suspension bridge. It was one of the hallmark experiences of my life. You've made me want to do your bridge, too. I love your courage and the way you write about it.