It had been a full day zip lining through the lovely lush forests of Costa Rica & my fellow geek in crime (my Bestie) and I were quite pleased with ourselves. After all, we had just flown miles above forest floors, soaked in the breath taking views and spent a lot of energy avoiding the question, "are their safety regulations as picky as they are back home?"
We were hiking out of the wild forest exchanging our adventure stories when our guide surprised us with a final stop. They were going to give us one final opportunity to test fate and see if we could still leave the forest in one piece. It was... the Tarzan Swing.
And it's exactly what you are imagining; a wooden platform that jets out over a bottomless valley, a harness around the waist, and one think long rope that is tied up so high you can’t even see where it's anchored. Then, you jump, drop and swing out... and yes, we were told this would be fun. But even my inner daring wild child was asking, "REALLY?"
I decided to keep an open mind about it, and although I loath big drops, I said to myself with a very shaky confidence, ‘when in Costa Rica’! So, it was with great trepidation that I inched my way to the end of the wooden platform where I could clearly see the immensity of the drop I would have to experience before the rope would loose slack and allow me to swing free through the forest.
Two men busied themselves attaching this carabiner to that and harnessing me in when I had a loud screaming epiphany... I am allowed to change my mind! With all the assertiveness I could muster (which was a challenge through chattering teeth and knee knocking) I anxiously told these fine gentlemen that I had changed my mind and I would not be connecting to my inner Tarzan today, thank you ever so much.
For a split second I was relieved, I had exercised my right to change my mind, be clear about what I wanted and everything was going to be okay. But it was during this relief that I also heard these two men giggle like school girls as I felt their hands on my back and shove this non-consenting Canadian off the ledge.
Needless to say, my dropping was anything but ladylike! I screamed like a howler monkey, creative language rapidly left my lips and I was beating myself up for not writing my will before leaving for this trip! I was terrified.
... until I made it to the part where fear was behind me and I could relish the the reward of the glorious swing.
These men didn’t know me, to them I was just another fearful vacationer who was way too willing to let this experience pass her by. What they did know, was me getting past my fear to experience something amazing was just one big shove away. I just wish they didn't get such a sadistic satisfaction from it!
As I walked away from the experience with legs still shaking and heart beating out of my chest it was hard not to wonder,
What else in life had I missed out on because I said a loud and fearful no?
How often does fear win and hold me back from new levels of joy and experience?
Do I really want to limit myself to challenges that aren't really challenges at all?
Where else in my life to I need a great big shove?
There have been plenty of experiences that have presented themselves to me in life that I wouldn't have taken on if it hadn't been for someone loving me enough to give me a good shove. And that is what separates a good friend from a great one; a good friend listens and supports me in whatever I want to do, but a GREAT friend knows when I am making excuses, letting fear hold me back and shoves me anyway.
It is so easy to get comfortable within the limits I set for myself, but there is so much more to experience on the other side of my fear. And truthfully, fear is often just excitement in different shoes.
Although Tweedledee and Tweedledum were not thinking past doing their job and getting the raving redhead off their platform, I am grateful to them for doing so. Because it wasn't a challenge that I wasn't capable of conquering and it was definitely time for me to push the boundaries and show myself the joy on the other side of my fear.
Sometimes a Great Big Push is Necessary to Experience Great Big Joy.