We were 20 feet off the ground, suspended among the treetops in a dense forest in Western Massachusetts.
My little girl looked up. “Daddy,” she said, “I’m scared…”
She just turned 8, so I wasn’t surprised. What did surprise me, though, was that 30-minutes and 6 stations into her first ever high-ropes course, this was the first time she voiced her fear. She’d pretty much flown through every challenge, scampering across wire bridges, floating block ladders and navigating itty bitty platforms wrapped around trees high above the earth without a hint of hesitation.
But, this was different. It was her first ever zip line.
For those not versed in the ways of the zip line, imagine a James Bond-ish wire cable strung between two trees at a downward angle. Then clip a small roller device from your body harness onto the rope, hang off the roller and go screaming down the line toward the tree at the end (just look at the image above).
As we sat on the platform, I checked her safety straps and carabiners and replied, “It’s okay to be nervous, I’m a little scared too. But, you can still do this. And once you hit the other side, I bet you’ll think it was one of the coolest things you’ve ever done.”
She looked at me nervously and asked me to go first, which I did. Moments later, she came hurtling my way, eyes wide open with a look that morphed from fear into a smile, then a scream, then a giggle and an outright laugh with each moment of acceleration.
I caught her at the end and pulled her into the safety of the platform while we unhooked the pulley and transferred her safety carabiners onto the wire anchors on the platform.
She looked up and, without skipping a beat, uttered, “let’s do that again!”
And, indeed, we did. Many times. There’s a proverb I’ve heard recounted in many different forms that goes something like this, “Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s the willingness to take action in the face of fear.”
In that moment, high up in the trees, I think we both understood the power of this simple idea.
So, I’m curious, have you ever experienced anything like this?
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