Monday, October 2, 2017

Why Do You Not Trust Yourself?


“Why do you not trust yourself?” asks the young Nepalese man calmly. 

There I stand, overcome with nausea from an intense fear of heights, on a platform above a canyon nearly 400 feet high, at Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, India. The sixth in our group, I am the last person to zipline over a lake below. I can’t take my eyes off the jagged mounds of rock on one side of the water.

Not wanting to ruin the experience for the others, I keep quiet until my sister and I are the last to leap from the postage-sized cement pad. 

“I’m at an age where I just don’t need to do things I don’t want to do,” I tell her after she tries to convince me of the zipline’s safety. “I'm not doing this. You go, have fun and let them know I’ll meet everyone back at the hotel.”

This trip to Mother India marks my 50th year—I’m entering the gate to my wisdom years. It’s meant to be epic, but not in this daredevil way. The country calls to me for personal reasons; I am looking for answers to internal questions. 

I delight in day trips to goddess temples, yoga in holy places, practicing silence and feeling the kundalini energy within. My love of Hindu gods and the culture expand as I steep myself in rich, ancient history. Ziplining is not my plan or my jam. 

Our guide surprises us after a day of exploring the imposing stone fortress high on a hill above the blue city of Jodhpur. 

My sister jumps as she belts out a, “Woohoo!” 

And then there are two of us. Again, the haunting question from someone too young, I think, to be teaching this old dog a new trick. His eyes are kind and patient. He has all day to wait for me even though the next group is queuing up. “Why do you not trust yourself?” 

The universe is always speaking to us.

Damn.

For months I was anxious, on the fence about quitting a great corporate job to get back to creating art and pursuing writing. My heart asked me to leave my beloved San Francisco and the security of an income that affords certain privileges, like this trip, in order to live in line with my truth. I hoped India would offer clarity.

My attendant's sweet, round face smiles gently as his question stands between us like the canyon between me and my next big step in life. 

My body is on auto-pilot recall of other horrible height experiences I've suffered—Seattle's Space Needle, the steep, winding stairs of Barcelona's Sagrada Familia, the Duomo in Florence. My breath is shallow as a cold sweat covers me. My heart shakes as if I've had five cups of coffee, which I haven't. My stomach, wildly unsettled.

I'm hating my soul for placing me here, for making me take the F-ing leap of faith that is required to move forward. Have you been there? To that place where the very essence of who you are is asking you to believe in yourself and your capabilities? 

This isn't about a zipline. I know this.

It’s not a proud moment as I F-bomb the universe—and the zipline sherpa it’s assigned to wisen me up. 

I’d like to tell you I jump off with a woohoo like my brave sister with her arms out wide, but there is no glee echoing off the canyon walls. I am wound tightly around that cable, knotted up with indecision. What did my platform guru tell me to do with my left hand? What do I do with my legs? 

What am I doing with my life?

Momentum. Gravity. The universe. Forces greater than me are handling the situation.

My small group on the other side welcome me with leaps, whoops and hollers. I practically fall into their arms. I’m sobbing. Sobbing! Out of gratitude it’s over. 

“I’m so proud of you,” says my little sister as she wipes my snotty face. 

Another group hug!

“Ok ladies, let’s get going!” says our group guide cheerfully, “We have five more to go!”

You hear that right, but I don’t believe it either. My legs grow weaker. 

Five. More. Chasms. Including one twice the distance of the first. The worst one—nearly 1000 feet deep. From the top, I fly over not one, but two lakes, and land on the tip of a fortified tower that rears 100 feet out of Ranisar Lake. That’s a fast descent people.

Again, I’d like to tell you it gets easier, that each traverse is a little more fun, that I'm a bit more graceful. But no, that would be a lie. I do get greener in the face because all my blood is racing to my organs, to protect them, since I'm in primal, scared out of my mind, flight mode. The pictures aren't pretty. I never want to zipline again. But for now, I’m in it. 

In the proverbial, flow of life. 


The universe carries me in the direction I’m meant to be going—sometimes kicking and screaming, as I learn to trust myself more.

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