Day 31

Day 31 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.
Day 31
Not the actual course. Not me.

One of the only bright spots of hanging out in a psych center was the weekly outing to the ropes course. Getting to go was a privilege, reserved for those deemed medically and mentally sound, which meant most patients didn’t get permission for at least four weeks. They wanted to make sure we wouldn’t try to hang ourselves on the ropes or jump out of the van and run into Mcdonalds, like caffeine and sugar deprived crazies. This was our one chance for freedom from the 1/4 square mile to which we were confined so we jumped at the chance to go. We piled into vans with all the excitement of kids going to summer camp.

My first week on the course I tried rock wall climbing. Some of the younger and more athletic us crawled up the wall like frickin’ Spiderman. I was more amoeba-blob like as I sauntered up the wall at a snail’s pace. I was thrilled to have two full grown men belay, counter balance, for me. As evidenced by their sweat rings I’m sure they worked harder to get my ass up to the first level of the wall than I did. The two worn out men on the other end of my rope didn’t have enough energy or breath support to encourage me to go further.  A beleaguered thumbs up and they let me float myself down the hard fought 10 feet or so I had climbed.
My third trip to the ropes course was on Halloween. I sported my Batman glasses and cape and was determined to conquer the obstacle laid before me. I climbed up a 30 foot pole, jumped off the platform the size and stability of a saltine cracker and caught a rope loop with one foot 10 feet away. Then I swung fifty feet, at 10 foot intervals, catching my  feet in the rope loops as I went. I sweated, swung and swore all the way to the last loop.  

At the end I gave one last mighty swing and caught the last platform with my foot.  However instead of sticking the landing I ended up strung out (no, not that way), like roast dinner on a spit, horizontally suspended 30 feet in the air, belly and cape flapping in the wind; one foot clinging to the platform, my hands clinging to the guide rope.  Awkward and ungraceful. To make matters worse I had shoes with no shoe laces and gravity was threatening to separate me from my shoe. As I mentally negotiated my next move I lost my shoe and, this just in, was beginning to lose my pants. My only hope for modesty was the harness which though chaffing was keeping the proper parts covered. My triumph? After re-situating my pants I jumped off that platform, cape flying and landed brilliantly on one foot, just like Batman.
I’m kind of a fun sucker. I feel the need to be the best, the prettiest, the smartest, the most accomplished and the most well liked. But up there, with my cape, undies and a bare foot flapping in the breeze I had a blast and nothing else mattered.

I have given birth four times, overcome unimaginable abuse, sat successfully for comprehensive exams, been a pastor for over two decades, survived celebrating New Year’s Eve with the Mexicans and overcome OCD control of my sock drawer. However just enjoying being myself in that moment felt bigger than all of that.

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