The log was 30 feet up in the air, a sort of telephone pole of a balance beam. I was supposed to walk from one end to the other, holding onto nothing. The rest of the group had done it. Ten minutes had passed, and I was still frozen on the business end.
Thirty feet was not a height that would kill me, especially in a safety harness. But from the way I stood paralyzed after a series of false starts, you’d think I was walking a tightrope over a rift in the earth down to its fiery magma core.
“Just take the first three steps,” the guide called up. “You just have to make yourself start. It’s like writing the first three words of a novel.”
“No. It really isn’t,” I called down, trying to be darkly funny, but the bitter was seeping through. So were the tears.
My two younger sisters, with whom I’d traveled to this Tucson resort to celebrate a Big Birthday, had both just done it successfully. And when they reached the end, they’d each tagged the far pole and walked back, backwards. That was the victory lap, a victory I’d assumed would be mine, too. After all, I like physical challenges, I like being out of my comfort zone. What I hadn’t figured on was how much I wouldn’t like it when I couldn’t use my hands (which our guide explained later was the ultimate bugbear of those who have an issue with being in control).
The group members down below had been calling out encouragement and advice — momentum was key, they said, just get that first step going and then another, and don’t stop. But 10 minutes was an uncomfortably long time to watch someone short circuiting, and they had put away the cameras and fallen silent.
I’d like to blame it on Continue reading