Anyway, she was talking about feeling fearless. She illustrated her fearlessness with the line "I may even touch a spider..." That got me to thinking, what would I do if I had a moment of fearlessness? Let's face it, you and I both know it won't be touching a spider. I do not see why I ever need to not be afraid of spiders. Has my fear of spiders ever lost me something awesome? Nope. Has it saved me repeatedly from certain death? Absolutely. No, what I would do if I were suddenly fearless has nothing to do with eight legged freaks.
I would complete a Ropes Course.
The summer I turned 13, my Girl Scout troop took a trip to Rainbow Beach Resort in Inchelium to partake in a Ropes Course Challenge. It was an entire weekend that, at the time, I thought was going to be amazing.
We spent the first day doing the lower course. Learning to trust one another, because you know as Girl Scouts we were a bunch of untrustworthy animals, saving a puma with rope burns and food coloring in water, and attempting to get a group of uncoordinated pubescent girls over a great big wall. I still wonder if it was really a scout trip or our parents sending us to bratty girl boot camp.
I did enjoy that first day, it wasn't scary and even a little fun. I thought moving on to the high course the next day would be just as entertaining. Until I saw exactly how high the high course actually was.
We awoke early, pulled one of my troop member's mattresses off the top bunk with her on it, and got ready for another day of female bonding. Getting ready for the high course consisted of very handsome boys, who called themselves "guides", teaching us how to put on our harnesses and use terms like "ready to climb" and "climb on". Then we were taken to the course and shown our first challenge.
I was sure that I was going to die, and even though our troop leader was trying to reassure me, all I heard was, "die on".
The first challenge were three wires strung between two trees forty feet up in the air. To get to these wires, there were tiny metal loops in the tree that looked like thumb tacks, but were supposedly "hand holds" and "foot holds". Once you climbed the staple ladder, you were meant to step out onto a tiny wooden platform and from there, using two of the wires as more "hand holds" step onto the third wire and walk all the way across to another tiny wooden casket, I mean platform. Once you got across, you then had to turn around and go back to the center, lean back and remove your feet from the wire, trusting one of your fellow scouts to hold you while you repelled to the bottom.
I thought that with age, this task would not seem so daunting, forty feet not so high. Instead, even writing it makes me think that this Ropes Course is just a convenient way to lynch your young.
I watched a couple of girls go first and had just started to think I may be able to complete this challenge, when somehow it was my turn.
I clipped in, parroted the words I was taught and climbed away. I was about halfway up the tree when some bright person decided to say, "you're doing great, Sara, don't look down." I of course promptly looked down and froze. I couldn't move, I couldn't even talk. I was hovering over the Grand Canyon, hanging from a piece of dental floss and clinging to four toothpicks attached to the wall with Elmer's Glue. I remember people yelling at me to keep going and shaking my head. Then came the idea to just come back down the way I had come, to which I emphatically shook my head. Then one of the "guides" tells me that they can just lower me down, but first I would have to let go of the tree so they could swing me to the middle. I lowered my head, closed my eyes, and wrapped my arms tightly around my new best friend, Mr. Tree.
The rest is a bit of a blur. I believe I had to have found my voice enough to tell them I would most definitely not be doing any of those things. That they would just have to come up and get me. And that is exactly what happened.
One of the "guides" climbed up the tree, wrapped his arms around me and the tree, and pried my fingers apart. Then we both swung to the center like Tarzan and Hysterical Jane, and we were lowered to the ground. It was official, I was the planet's biggest wuss.
I respectfully bowed out of the next few challenges. Choosing to be the one holding the ropes rather than the one hanging precariously from them. The final challenge was nothing but a forty foot telephone pole covered with more thumb tacks. Hanging in front of the top of the pole was a trapeze. We were meant to climb it, which left you having to figure out how to get yourself in a standing position on top of the pole. Then we were told to set a goal and jump for the trapeze. Catching the handle was meant to represent reaching your goals while jumping and missing was meant to teach us that at least trying makes us feel "good" and "accomplished".
This challenge I actually did, but only because one of my fellow scouts kept saying, "you'll regret it for the rest of your life if you don't".
Filled with a guilt I thought only my mother could make me feel, I climbed that sumbitch and managed to stand on the top. I stared down that ugly trapeze and set what I thought was an unattainable goal. Then I reached out my arms and jumped.
The girl belaying me was not paying attention. I assume she thought there was no way I'd actually do it, so she let me fall ten feet before one of the "guides" grabbed hold and I received the worst wedgie of my life and what I believe was a small stroke.
My fingers never went near the trapeze.
Guess I shouldn't have set that goal to be able to touch a spider.
Hug those babies, don't steal their Halloween candy, and never let them join the Girl Scouts.