Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Faking It

Every now and then parenthood and/or life requires you to do something terrifying. In life you can usually groan and angst about it with your friends, husband and family until you've worked up the necessary courage.
In direct contrast, parenting often throws you into a situation with little to no warning. Sometimes the only option is to paste a big smile on your face and charge forward.

At least that's what I told myself as I clung to a miniscule platform built around a jungle tree 100 feet up in the air. In front of me was the thin tightrope I had to traverse to get to the next platform way, way off in the distance.

When my daughter told me she wanted to go ziplining I was all like, "Yeah, great idea. So fun!" I've been ziplining before and am familiar with the procedure.

Ordinarily, you're strapped into a harness, climb a tree with a 'ziplining professional' who makes sure you're connected to an industrial strength cable in compliance with all applicable safety regulations. They show you how to push off, you take a deep breath and zip to the other platform where you're caught by another 'ziplining professional' who hooks you up to the next cable.

It's a lot like riding a roller coaster. You might be a little scared at first, but you do it and then you want to go again.

The name Adventure Challenge Ziplining didn't clue me in that this experience would be different.

Neither did the intense tutorial we got on the ground about safety precautions. I did start to get an inkling when our instructor insisted both my daughter and I complete a practice course on the ground two times before we could go up to the trees. But it wasn't until we were on that first platform and I realized we were all alone that panic set in.

"Aren't you coming up with us?" I called down to our instructor. "I notice no one's there to meet us on the second platform."

"Yes, very good. You go first, Lady!" he called giving me two thumbs up.

Did I mention his command of English was... well, I can't really complain because it was better than my command of Thai which is limited to 'Hello' and 'Thank you'.

I looked back at the tightrope I had to walk.

"Mom, are you scared?" asked my daughter from behind me. Her face was serious and I could tell this whole Adventure Ziplining thing had the potential to go either way. It could be an embarrassing defeat or a challenge we both overcame.

"No, not at all," I said, despite the fact my knees were literally shaking. "We're going to be like Indiana Jones swinging through the jungle. Remember, you've got a harness on so if you fall off the tightrope it'll be fun, kind of like a swing."

I hooked my crampons to the cable and then, in contradiction of Adventure Ziplining policy I hooked her up right behind me because, while there are many things I trust my daughter to do,
standing alone while she transfers the crampons designed to keep her from crashing 100 feet down to the jungle floor is not one of them. Since it was just the two of us up in the trees, there was no one there to stop me.

Although I'm not certain, it's possible that watching my daughter inch across that first tightrope  was harder than crossing it myself. "You're halfway there," I told her. "Just look at me and keep coming." And she did! We hugged and did a (subdued) victory dance way up high on our platform in the trees.

Adventure Ziplining, it turns out, is one treacherous passage after another with the occasional zips thrown in for fun.

We leaped through the air landing on boards that swung and teetered under our weight. We inched across bouncy rubberbands and we balanced on round logs. We bounded. We flew. Despite the fact we were always safely harnessed, we still felt incredibly brave.

By the time we got to the zipping it felt like the easiest part of the course."Can I go first on the second half?" my daughter asked and of course I said yes.

It took us close to three hours to finish our tour of duty in the tree tops. By the time we climbed back to the ground our preliminary trepidations had disappeared. We were drenched with sweat, victory and an important mother/daughter life lesson. Sometimes the only thing standing between you and what you want to do is irrational fear. And in those instances, the best thing to do is pretend you're Indiana Jones until you actually believe it.


Barbara Watson said...

Oh man. Ziplining kinda freaks me out the regular way...but this? Wow! Great job and what a memory! (Your closing sentence is perfect.)

jaybird said...

Wow! My kids would have been screwed! There is no way I could have done that. Bravo Momma! You are awesome.

Alison DeLuca said...

Sounds like when I agreed to go water-skiing just so I wouldn't look like a wuss....

What a great description of a never-to-be-forgotten afternoon. Yay you!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've done that before! It's a real test of balance. We didn't have any zipping though. Glad you did it.

Beylit said...

I am afraid of heights to the point of becoming uncomfortable and anxious just reading this post. I wish I could get over that irrational fear and just pretend to be Indiana Jones. I think if I had been younger and my mom was willing to do it with me I might have tried.

Julie Flanders said...

Oh wow, I admit I'd be way to chicken to do this. And I am so clumsy that if I did do it, I'd likely never be seen again LOL.

Amazing pictures!

Carol Kilgore said...

AWESOME! You can't see me, but I'm doing a victory dance for you. Both of you learned big lessons. As your daughter grows, you can use reminders of this to help her through any rough patches. Just excellent!

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Oh how exciting. This reminds me of a commercial for esurance with a lady riding the zipline.

Emily R. King said...

LOL! How fun. Now that you know what's involved, will you do it again? I bet you say yes. :)

Gwen Gardner said...

You are so brave, both of you! I don't care for heights but ziplining sounds fun.

Johanna Garth said...

Barbara, it was more than I bargained for but so much fun!

Jaybird, I couldn't let my daughter figure out that she's actually braver than I am.

Alison, exactly. Who wants to be a wuss, right?

Alex, we were so glad...when we were done :)

Beylit, you'd be surprised what you can convince yourself to do just by pretending you're Indiana Jones.

Julie, you would have been fine. We were connected to harnesses, after all :)

Carol, that's my hope.

Michael, does she look terrified? ;)

Emily, totally yes. Once we were done it actually felt easy.

Gwen, I'm not a fan of heights either, but even so, it was still fun.

PK HREZO said...

Gosh, I love it! How beautiful! I've never done it but always wanted to. What a great memory you two will share forever--as well as a huge sense of accomplishment.
Your end remarks reminds me of some advice Neil Gaiman gave during a speech--if you're not really qualified, just pretend you are. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

They have something like that at Dollywood. I quickly decided it was not for me as I have no sense of balance, but my husband loved it. He teased me for the rest of the day that I'd fearlessly go on any roller coaster but tied to a rope scared me.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Wow, Johanna,

That was AWESOME... I take off my INDIANA JONES hat for you.

I don't know if I'd have that kind of nerve. But if my daughter was there, I probably would.

Nicki Elson said...

Micheal stole my word - AWESOME! Everything about this post. The fact that you were brave for your daughter - and she was probably being brave for you - and that you had this experience together, and that you did it. Indiana Johanna!

Gina Gao said...

It's amazing that you were able to do that! I did it once, and my legs were shaking so bad I nearly fell off.

Joanne Noragon said...

"Yes, very good. You go first, Lady!"

And that is how civilization advanced.

Gail said...


Dianne K. Salerni said...

OMG, since I am ridiculously scared of heights and refuse to ride roller coasters because no one can convince me that the cars aren't going to fly off at the top of the curve ... I feel very proud of myself for jumping off a zipline platform on Catalina Island.

But I did, and ZIP -- I was over to the other side. But to WALK it? No. Way.

Kudos to you!

Unknown said...

You see, this is where we're different. It was your legs that were shaking. My entire body would have been shaking uncontrollably. :P

It does sound like a lot of fun, once you get passed the height issue.

Shell Flower said...

That's awesome that it turned into such a bonding and powerful experience. Yay for you two. I can definitely see the resemblance in that first photo. You did far better than I did trying to go snowboarding with my son. (Nothing more humiliating than telling ski patrol you lost your 8yr old son.)

Ella said...

I am so proud, thrilled and happy for you both!! How brave and daring...WOW! I am in awe....YOU are making me rethink a few endeavors~
I did go on a coaster because someone said I was chicken...cluck!
No, I went-than dared my hubby to go~
We both had been fearful of them prior~
Time to be brave again....
Zippity do dah!!

Botanist said...

Oh! Well done! We have a couple of courses like that near here and they are AWESOME FUN! said...

Wow, I already respected you, Johanna. Now, I'm completely in awe. You are one brave woman! Even normal ziplining is too scary for me. On a trip to Costa Rica many years ago, I was the only one in my group too wimpy to try it.


Jan Morrison said...

I don't even want to dream about this! I'd like to go ziplining but that other stuff - gah! double gah! Good for you, brave warrior!
Jan Morrison

Rachna Chhabria said...

Really brave of you Johanna, I would have been scared to death.

A Beer for the Shower said...

So was this in Thailand? I'm assuming so, by the tag and the mention of you not speaking Thai. That's awesome. It sounds like quite the harrowing adventure.

I loved visiting Thailand a few years ago, and I had a lot of crazy adventures as well. No, not of the female variety like everyone assumes. Adventures like kayaking on the ocean, singing karaoke with a Thai major general, and learning Muay Thai.