Thursday, June 2, 2011

New Tricks

Thought I'd do something new. Came across a list of writing prompts online and thought I'd try that out. I'm also adding pictures for the first time. Cool beans! This the prompt I decided to go with.

Have you ever done something just to feel the danger, or to feel alive?

Danger is not something I've really ever sought out. I was a very cautious kid. At the same time though I was most certainly a thrill seeking kid. Roller coasters were my idea of heaven. I liked to swing so high that the swing set started to come up out of the ground. But those things didn't feel dangerous to me. They were just fun and felt like what I imagined flying to feel like. 

Fast forward to adult life. Still not really into danger. But......I have become rather fond of facing fears and doing things I never would have thought I had in me to do. And doing those things did very much make me feel alive. And that is a very good thing in my opinion. 

One summer my ex and I took the kids to the New River Gorge in West Virgina which is home to some of the best white water rapids as well as being a big place for mountain biking, rock climbing and rappelling. I wasn't planning on anything other than the raft trip for myself. That was going to be pushing my limits as it was. So we did the raft trip. Oh boy did I ever feel alive! Kind of like they told us at our orientation, this isn't a ride at Disney World. No sooner were we in the first scary section than I was tossed overboard. Hoo boy....the adrenaline was flowing! I wasn't exactly alone. A lot of rafters got tossed there. And we all survived. Thought they'd never get my butt dragged back up into the raft though. It was good for a lot of laughs later. Especially since I have video footage of it. They had some guy running ahead on the bank of the river and video taping at all the hot spots. 

Here I am before boarding the short bus to take me to my doom. Click on pictures to enlarge.

And here I am on the raft, most probably before being unceremoniously dumped.

And finally after surviving the trip (yes, that's one of my offspring doing to her best to look like she belongs on a short bus).

The next day was rappelling day. My ex and two of the kids were already experienced at that and had brought their gear. Since the middle child could not be convinced to give it a try her role was that of the belayer (person who controls the ropes from the bottom of the drop). She was used to doing that and I was going to help her. My ex had asked me at some point prior to that day if I was sure I didn't want to try. I assured him there was no way on earth. And then that morning.....I don't even know what possessed me, but all of a sudden I told him I would try it if he could find a not very high drop. His eyes lit up and I knew it would be his mission to find a suitable drop. And he did. And it was right next to a much higher drop so everyone could have "fun". If I remember correctly it was only about a 30 ft. drop. Looking up from the bottom it looked like a piece of cake. However, once up at the top, looking down was another story. Now would be a good time to mention that I have no great fear of heights; provided there is something to keep me from falling, such as a simple rail. I adore the view from way up high. What I do have an extreme fear of is falling. I've taken a lot of spills in my life and been hurt quite a few times. None of those falls were from high up. I hate ladders and even step stools are scary to me. I don't like any unsteady footing. So there I am at the top of the cliff. In order to start things off you have to go out to the very edge, turn around (so now you are blind to the drop), drop your heals off the edge while leaning backwards and then push off. So basically, I had to make myself fall....on purpose! Yeah, that realization hadn't quite dawned on me until I was up there. Teresa was down at the bottom with the ropes. And we had brought along some neighboring campers since they wanted to check it out. So great, I even had an audience. It took the most ridiculous amount of coaxing to get me to push off of that ledge. My legs were shaking like crazy and my heart was in my throat. I was so petrified that I really couldn't control my movements at all. So I was just sort of swaying around for what seemed like an eternity. At some point, with Teresa's help I'm sure, I got it under control and completed the drop. Did I feel alive? You had better believe it. And damn happy to be on the ground. 

Here I am at the top.

Here I am just pushing off. Note the terror on my face now!

And now on my way down. And I'm not crazily swinging around. Maybe I just imagined that?

And a close-up. Wow. I don't LOOK stressed out of my mind. Trust me. I was!

After all was said and done, I didn't regret any of it. Why would I? I may not have found a new hobby but I did push myself past some fears. I got that wonderful alive feeling and learned that you can do things that terrify you and yet survive. And I made my kids' day. They were cheering!

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