Climb, Jump, and Whiz
It took three easy steps: climb, jump, and whiz. That’s all I had to do. I watched as one after another, my friends climbed up the tree, jumped from the high platform, and whizzed across the lake on a harness. They all came back with huge smiles, shaking off water like dogs. It was simple enough. And I couldn’t do it.
I believe in endurance. Mental and physical battles build strength indeed; however, they test will and faith much more. To succeed one must believe in themselves and others, shouting into the face of fear. That’s why I knew, one way or another, I was going up that tree to conquer a personal battle.
I had done the zip line before as a camper. Again, I had been the last one. I remembered the platform the most. I had been up so high and my legs could not reach the platform easily. I had struggled under my weak arms, silently cursing the lack of another foothold. That moment had been more terrifying than my fear of heights. If my grip slipped on the board, suspended in the air, I would fall, alone and at risk – even the knowledge of the uncomfortable harness was not a relief.
I needed to build confidence. Chiding myself, I pushed the memory from my mind. I could handle this. Many experiences have taught me strength. If I endured them, I could survive this. I just need hope. I just need faith.
Rejuvenated, I marched to the tree, smiling and excited for this adventure. The harness secured, I was free to go. I bolted up the ladder, breathing easier as my journey appeared less and less threatening. Quickly, I reached the footholds, iron looped into small U-shaped pegs. Breathing deeply, I battled against doubt. The climbing was difficult as I knocked my sandaled feet on rough tree bark and tested my foothold to confirm proper position.
My breathing stopped as I slipped slightly, my foot placed unsteadily on the side of a peg. Heart pounding and limbs quivering, the world became quieter as all I sensed was my own fear. Softly, at first, and then louder, I caught snatches of my friends, encouraging me from below. I grabbed their lifeline. Fueling myself with my supply of confidence, I soldiered on. I could feel the pull in my arms as I lifted my body weight, step by step. Gradually becoming further from the ground, each rung was difficult. But I had made it this far, I could make it to my goal.
The platform loomed ahead. My hands shook more than ever as I pondered how to attempt the climb. Then I saw that peg I had wished for so long ago, less tarnished and welcoming like a lesson learned. Step, pull, and lift. And there I was. I stood atop that platform with a sense of relief.
Until I looked down. Then it all came bubbling up again. Below, they all looked so small. Huge branches flanked either side like warning signs. The board remained small enough to fear taking a step. And then I looked across the water, the sun reflecting in bright flashes, like a beacon through the dark. I gripped the handlebar, summoning my courage. “One…two…three!” they chanted from the forsaken ground. They had nothing to risk. I looked out on that water again. There was one last obstacle to conquer and then I could be free. They repeated: “One…two…three!” And I jumped.
Climb, jump, and whiz. The wind whipped my face as I whizzed over the lake. My heart pounded in exhilaration as I hit the water, cooling my hot skin and fear. I looked back up at that tree, its branches waving kindly. I smiled and remembered that once again it had been worth the struggle. I knew that I could and would climb that tree all over again. I knew I could believe in myself.