I recently went to my second flying trapeze class. Let me set the stage for you. I am deathly afraid of heights. And I’m neither flexible nor athletic. I can’t even do a forward roll or cartwheel–these aren’t skills I’ve lost: my body just doesn’t move that way. So why did I sign up the first time? Have I mentioned I don’t always make the wisest decisions? It just struck me as a good idea at the time. When I got there, and realized some sort of gymnastics and courage would be involved, I quickly realized it was not one of my better decisions. However, I am also very frugal. This class was not cheap and I’d already paid for it. So up the ladder I go. Good God, it’s a small platform; and 23 feet up is very, very high, and there’s only one way down. I am not a daredevil nor adrenaline junkie. So for two hours my heart was stuck in my throat as I flew. Most. Amazing. Experience. Ever. Knowing I could do it, and I did! So empowering. It felt good. I felt strong. I felt fierce. Made for a good story and that was that.
Two years later I decided on a whim it’s time to go again. This time, the bug has bitten me and I’m addicted: to knowing that at each point, there is measurable success in order to execute each trick. There is skill, technique, and timing to master. The success of a knee hang catch is indescribable.
My friends say I am brave and courageous to fling myself off that high platform. I believe the courage is not in the physical aspect of it, but as is true in most things in life, it’s all mental. The courage is in believing the lovely (and hopefully strong) person on the platform will not let go of me as I lean all the way out over the edge to grab the bar. The trust is in believing the man on the catch trap will actually really catch me, and that he thought I was a funny and kind soul who deserves to live. But mostly, the trust is in myself. Knowing I can, and will, do this. Trusting in myself is a new concept for me. For a long time, I’ve believed I could not, and should not, be trusted. Again, I am not widely known for my sound and wise decisions. When you’re flying through the air, you have to get out of your head, and in those seconds, live only in your gut and heart to be successful. You have to trust yourself at such a base level. That is courage.
I’ve also noticed I’ve been a lot more open to trying new things the past few years. I’ve been open to learning how to do random things on a whim–why not, I ask myself. Bet I can, I tell myself. I may not be great at it, but bet I can. Flight lessons! Belly dancing! Drums! Running races! Other random activities! (Watch out–target shooting range next month: duck and cover, folks! You’ve been warned.) I am open to trying anything, and open to failing at it all, as well as open to succeeding. That is courage.
I’ve also been more open to people–activities with people I am getting to know, meeting new people, really connecting with people, possibly being judged or rejected by people. I’ve been open to being more flexible and spontaneous, and open to possible scheduling conflicts or disasters. And I find life is so much easier. Not easy as in simple and uncomplicated and void of problems. But easy as in flowy and organic and well, I don’t quite know how to describe it. But I know each time I interact with the world now in this way–in reaching out to a person, or reaching out for a trapeze bar (literal or symbolic), I am reinforcing for myself that I trust people, and I trust myself. That in the end, everything will work out, and that I’ll be OK, bumps and scratches and sore muscles and bad decisions and all. Jump, and the net will appear.