Always wanting to test myself, I recently participated in an incredible challenge called the Desert Tightrope. Traversing a cable 35 ft. in the air using only a series of hanging ropes to help maintain my balance looked excitingand fun. It ended up being all that and more.
The dry desert of Tucson was where I, along with Diane, Makenzie, Terry, Sarah and Lewis, our insightful leader, embarked on this journey together. Lewis exuded incredible energy and determination. He made it clear - we were all going to do well and we were all going to learn something, mostly about ourselves. He was right. As my four new friends and I stood under the 35 foot tightrope, we looked up, squinting to block the bright desert sun, and decided the order in which we would climb. I was going second. Harnesses were placed. Instructions given. “Rely on your legs not your arms when you climb up the pole” Lewis recommended, “they are stronger!” With these directives and encouragement from my friends on the ground, I managed to summit the 35 foot pole ready to step onto the tightrope. I stood there – frozen, “You got this” were the reassuring words from my new and supportive friends. “Take your time. Look around-check out the view!” yelled Lewis. But I wasn’t interested in the view. My legs were shaking ferociously as I grabbed onto the first rope and pulled myself onto the tightrope. I held onto the rope for life, unaware of how tightly I was gripping it. “Great work” were the supportive words from down below. “Grab the next rope” they encouraged. After grabbing the next hanging rope with my right hand, I was too anxious, too afraid to let go of the one in my left hand. “Joyce, what is that rope in your left hand doing for you?” Lewis asked. “Let go of it so you can move on”. Wise words. I made it to 5 of the 7 hanging ropes before I fell and Lewis brought me down slowly to the ground. Surrounded by my team, I cried. I was shaking. I could not believe how scared I was but also how happy I was at pushing through my incredible fear and initial lack of confidence. I didn’t get to the end of the tightrope but I went further than I expected.
I gleaned many lessons from this challenge but let me focus on the top three. First, letting go of the rope in my left hand signified letting go of the past in order to move on. It didn’t help to hold onto both ropes. It didn’t provide stability and it hindered my progress. Second, once I got to the ground, I noticed my hands really hurt. “Because you were gripping too tightly. Holding onto something too tightly doesn’t work. You need to relax and let the rope work for you” Lewis kindly reminded me. Holding on so tightly didn’t help my balance - it caused pain. Finally, it was with great surprise and appreciation that 6 individuals, coming together only 30 minutes prior to walking the Dessert Tightrope, became sincere allies and supporters. We wanted the best for each other - to feel good about what we accomplished and to acquire amazing life lessons: Let go of the past. It doesn’t provide stability, it stops you from moving forward. Holding onto to things in life too tightly causes pain and doesn’t get you want you want. Relax your grip. Take a deep breath and move forward. Finally, depend on others. They provide strength and support during challenges and struggles. You’ll go further and it is fun to accomplish things together.
Excellent life lessons and growth are brought forth by challenges and embracing new opportunities. This brings me to my next exciting growth opportunity. Metahab.com is partnering with LFM Consulting, a company that provides unique and meaningful physical challenges and adventures to inspire and promote the principles and practices of metahab: finding meaning in our personal and professional lives, in our struggles and suffering, and encouraging resilience and growth after challenging life events and traumas. I am honored to collaborate with attorney Dana Furbry and Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Leonard (US Army) on this important and life affirming work. Now, sometime during this month challenge yourself. Walk further. Run. Go on a hike or bike ride. Take a time off work. Read that book you sitting on your desk. Take on a challenge at work. Push yourself. See how you can grow.