“That’s the path of shame” he said, chuckling and pointing to the dirt path that sloped down and disappeared into the woods.
I had two choices to get across the canyon:
Step onto the 6 inch wide plank, suspended 100 feet in the air by cables
Walk down the dirt path.
I carefully placed one foot on the board, shifted my weight onto it to first test its sturdiness (and my own balance!) and then placed the other foot in front of the first.
I stood there for a moment taking it all in, the incredible view from that height (it seemed like I could see forever), and what I was about to undertake – I was about to walk across a very steep canyon on a 6″ wide boards suspended over 100 feet in the air.
The board wobbled with each step I took, swayed in the wind with just the slightest breeze and bumped up and down in response to others also walking it at the same time as I.
I noticed myself becoming hyper-aware of not just my own movements, but also how the movements of those around me and the environment, impacted my ability to maintain my focus and my balance.
If my foot stepped too far to the edge of the board, it would tilt the board in that direction, shifting my balance and prompting my whole body to counterbalance.
But somehow in the moment it didn’t feel that way. In the moment, all the safety gear melts into the background of my mind and all I know is that if I fall it’s a long way down!
At the start of this adventure I had thought that donning a harness and flying across the canyon on a zip line with nothing except three cables between me and the canyon below would be the scariest.
But it wasn’t.
No, it was these five, count them, 5 suspension bridges that really tested my mind.
Each one was a little different, challenging me in a variety of ways.
For example, one of them alternated between a narrow plank, to hunching my body over into a 4′ tall and 100′ long slatted wood tunnel, and then back to a plank – each time having to navigate from one to the next with each moving independently of the other. And there’s still that Canyon below me.
What got me through it? Focus.
Did I focus on how high up in the air I was? Or how much it would hurt if I fell?!
No. My focus was on the board and my feet.
Every now and then I looked up to see how far I’d come, what was ahead of me, and my destination.
Then, I returned my focus to what was directly in front of me.
This, my friend, is how you make it through the tough parts in your life:
- Focus one step at a time on the actions, no matter how small, that in the moment will get you where you want to go.
- Let go of the stuff that happens along the way that feels hard. You can’t control it anyway and putting your focus there will only paralyze you.
- Every now and then acknowledge how far you’ve come!
- Revisit your plan, goals, and intentions frequently to make sure you’re on track.
- Keep your intention on your ultimate destination to fuel your connection to your vision and purpose.
Adjust your approach, shift direction if necessary, but never, ever give up!
With good energy,
Debra Wilson Guttas, Mid-Life Transition Doula™, HTP
Author of the forthcoming book “Personal & Business Success through the 7 Gateways – Spiritual & Practical Tools for Crafting Your Life from the Inside Out” and co-author of the book “Women of Spirit“.