by Kim Walker.
Trish is one-of-a-kind. A beautiful snowflake. She is her own perfect self, seeing the world from a truly unique perspective. Except when it comes to one thing: trapeze. When it comes to climbing a ladder and throwing herself from a height while relying solely on her own strength, Trish is not alone in her perspective. Trish is the preacher, we’re all the choir. That shit is scary.
When I say, “I do flying trapeze”, people say, “Oh, I’d be too scared”. I say, “Of what?” Then come the reasons: heights, climbing the ladder, falling, etc. Yes, all those things are ultra scary. But what if I told you we’ve got that all on lock. We got nets, we got safety lines, we got harnesses. We got your fear-busters right here.
Now, this is where Trish is really unique. Where she really shines brightest as a rare jewel of a woman: she is honest about what scares her and honest in how she faces those fears. She said from the beginning, “I’d be afraid I couldn’t jump off. I’d be afraid I’d embarrass myself.” And I get it. Can you imagine how awful it would be if your flying trapeze class didn’t go well, and then you had to go home and blog about it?
When Trish didn’t fly at that first class, I thought it was game over. When you’re standing at the edge of the tiny trapeze platform, thinking to yourself, “This is so stupid, why am I doing this, abort, abort, abort”, your brain enters a somewhat binary place. Yes/no, fight/flight, pee/poo. I have seen so many people face that crucial moment. It’s a one shot deal - you don’t get to change your mind. You either jump right then, and it’s as if the door is opened, the path is wide. Or you don’t jump, and the door closes, the path is blocked, and it’s almost impossible to come back. It’s a very rare case that someone can work up the nerve to climb back up and try again (Except my mom, who I told to “just climb back up and look around”, when I had actually secretly told the instructor to fling her bodily from the platform. Sorry, Mom).
But Trish did it. She walked out of that building and then did something really unique: she came back. She showed up for a second time with fear bubbling and her mind set. She didn’t balk, she didn’t panic, instead she very stoically faced her fears. And did a damn good job of it. And I’m pretty sure she enjoyed it, because there’s a flipside to that tremendous fear: incredible joy and pride. Joy in flying through the air, and pride in choosing the scary path.
Sam Keen, a journalist turned philosopher, wrote a book called “Learning to Fly” about taking up flying trapeze at age 61. He says:
“Each day befriend a single fear, and the miscellaneous terrors of being human will never join together to form such a morass of vague anxiety that it rules your life from the shadows of the unconscious. We learn to fly not by being fearless, but by the daily practice of courage.”
Fear never leaves us, and in fact, it probably shouldn’t. A little healthy fear probably keeps us safe from stupid mistakes. But fear does not have to be binary. We don’t have to let fear force us off the platform, never to return again. We can always climb back up and try again after practicing a little courage. When facing extreme fear, especially fear that comes from within, it’s a pretty good bet that there’s an extreme reward waiting on the other side. All it takes is a little jump.
“The sacred is discovered in what moves and touches us, in what makes us tremble.”
― Sam Keen
For part THREE (and final, with video evidence) post of me and the flying trapeze, check back tomorrow ;)