Sunday, May 22, 2016

Doing What Scares You

The suspension bridge at Kakum National Park, Ghana
(built with funding assistance from USAID ;-).
© Lori Gravley, 2016
There is no illusion greater than fear.  --Lao Tzu

Yesterday, I went to Kakum National Park with the express intention of doing something that terrified me.  In Kakum, there is a seven-part rope walk suspended over 100 feet above the rain forest floor.  I am afraid of heights.

But, I've wanted to walk above the rain forest since I saw pictures of a canopy walk (as they are called) over ten years ago.  And I wanted to walk in the forest and get a feeling for Ghana outside the capital of Accra.

I had three other women willing to join me on the adventure.  So, we woke up early, ate a little breakfast, and then sat in market traffic for hours before we were able to truly leave the city behind and drive along the coast of Ghana to this beautiful park north of Accra.

We joined church and school groups on the short hike up to the first walkway.  Samuel, our guide, said, "If you're afraid of heights, don't look down." I repeated that excellent advice to myself as I stepped onto the first suspension bridge.  I grasped the ropes and walked step by step, making sure to put my feet firmly on the wooden planks.  I looked ahead.  I listened to the school children squealing and singing away their fear.  I smiled, if only to release endorphins.

By the third section, I was feeling more confident.  I could trust my feet to keep me on the path.  I could trust the bridge not to break.  I was far enough ahead of the children and teens that I didn't have to worry that they would do silly things to make the bridges sway or rumble.  I looked down, briefly.  I looked at the tops of the trees and a ground so far away and through so much foliage I couldn't see it. I put one foot in front of the other and enjoyed the walk.

It was a lot like the writing I'm sitting down to begin today, a re-visioning of my first Christine de Pizan middle-grade mystery, Bed of Bones.  I woke up thinking about a quote from Susan Jeffers that I had on my refrigerator when my first son was born, "Feel the fear and do it anyway."

I didn't fall yesterday.  I won't fail today.  And I'll try to remember Samuel's excellent advice, "If you're afraid, don't look down."  I don't have to see the ground in order to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I'll just take the next step.

Above the canopy at Kakum National Park, Ghana. © Lori Gravley, 2016

No comments:

Post a Comment