I was fortunate enough to have been asked by Ford Canada to take part in their “Escape For A Day” adventure. The day included lunch and dinner, the chance to drive on a closed, professional driving course and a zip lining adventure at Lafleche Adventure Cave and Aerial Park.
One problem. I am terrified of heights! A trait I’m sure can be traced back to my mother, who avoids flying like the plague.
Looking back on how amazing the experience was, I thought about how I must have been perceived in the moments leading up to the big moment where I stepped off the ledge and hung suspended over the vast expanse of nothingness beneath my feet.
I have never been a very adventurous person, so the thought of hurling myself off a platform while hanging by a couple of clips wasn’t really sitting in my stomach very well. Up until this moment, one of the most dangerous things I had done was riding the banana boat with my friends in the Dominican Republic. There was also the time I jumped off the roof of my house into our pool but I was much younger and dumber back then.
I spent the better part of the morning with a gut wrenching knot in my stomach, worrying about whether I’d be able to pull it off or not. When the dark clouds began to form and the rain started pouring down, I breathed a great big sigh of relief. There was no way they would allow people to zip line in the rain. It would be far too dangerous. Better yet, now I don’t have to make a tough decision in front of all my blogging peers, 99% of which were women. My manliness would remain intact on a technicality!
We were immediately ushered into our meeting room and asked whether we’d like to do Zip Lining or Cave Exploration. Now the spotlight was on me and I had no idea what to do. My fear was evident and hopefully the people in the room that day know that I was 100% in my fear. There was zero attention seeking going on in that moment, my family was literally flashing before my eyes as I contemplated taking the leap.
The fear had just about taken over when the “zipping instructor” ( I don’t know what they’re called…) said that if I was scared, she would tandem zip with me. For some reason this made me feel more comfortable and I started getting suited up to zip! Looking back, I have no idea how the idea of tandem zipping would have made any difference in my fear of plunging to my death.
So I gathered up all my courage, kissed the picture of my family and marched up the mountain. Once I got there, I realized that there was nothing manly about tandem zipping so I decided to go at it alone. Realizing the longer I stood there the worse my anxiety would get, I decided to volunteer to go 2nd (going first is highly overrated!).
After a miniature anxiety attack, I spent the longest 30 seconds of my life staring at the edge of the platform before gently gliding off through the trees. In my head, I screamed like I was in a horror movie. To the crowd, I was smiling as if I’d done it a million times before. Pure exhilirating fear. That’s how I would best describe my first run.
By the time I had arrived at run 2, I was a seasoned pro and couldn’t wait to get on the line. Again, I have no idea why my brain felt safe all of a sudden, nothing had changed and the worst case scenario was still a 50 foot free fall with no parachute or water beneath me. Still, I threw out some hotdog moves and even pulled off a Shaka Brah although no one was there to see it.
I don’t know if there is a message in here for people. As an anxiety ridden person myself, I always scoff at the idea that you can do anything you put your mind to, especially when you don’t control the environment surrounding you. There’s always a downside or worst case scenario to things but I’m so happy that I chose to go with the upside of trying this experience out. I also don’t feel like a changed man. It’s just nice to know that fears can be conquered and that being scared of something doesn’t mean it is not worth trying.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go and chain myself to my desk!
PS – I want to say a huge thanks to the people at Ford Canada for allowing me to take part in this experience. It was one of those once in a lifetime things for me and I’ll never forget it. I also want to thank all the incredible local bloggers I met that day. As a new blogger, I was starstruck throughout most of it and you all made me feel like one of the group from the get go. It was very much appreciated and a testament to the quality of people in our community.