NOTE: IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE MY MOTHER, PLEASE DON’T READ THIS COLUMN. (That means you, Mom.)
The reason I don’t want my mother to read this column is that I wasn’t entirely truthful with her about my plans for last weekend. She called to ask what I was doing. I told her that my husband had business in St. George and that I was going along for the ride. All of which is true.
So far . . .
OK. When she heard I was heading for St. George she basically told me not to do anything stupid. She always says this whenever I go somewhere, and I love it because it shows she cares. No matter how old the two of us get (we both had birthdays in March), she’s still the concerned mom and I’m still the idiot kid who might do something crazy.
You know. Like zip-lining.
What is zip-lining you ask? It’s an activity wherein a cable is stretched on an incline over a gorge so that human beings can put themselves in harnesses, jump off a cliff and take the ride of their lives. In places like St. George, for example.
That’s the part of my weekend plans I didn’t share with my mother.
MOM! STOP READING NOW!
Here’s the other part I didn’t share. I planned to do this activity with my girlhood friend Gigi Ballif, who was also in St. George last weekend. This information would have truly alarmed my mother because unsettling things sometimes happened when Gigi and I got together. You may remember she’s the one who put the car in “drive” instead of “reverse” when we were on the Provo High School Driver’s Ed range, thus causing the automobile to jump a curb and take out a tree. Good times!
Anyway. Gigi and I, along with a group that included our husbands, were ferried to a gorge in Green Valley by a crew of very able guides, who push screaming middle-aged people (like us) off mountains for a living. And it was awesome. The guides took care of everything — strapping us in, hooking us up, and sending us down the zip-line.
As it turns out, the scariest moment of all involved standing on the outcrop of rock right before taking off. A dozen different questions chased through the hamster wheel that is my brain. What if I zipped along so quickly that I smashed into the rocks on the other side? What if I got stuck halfway between Point A and Point B? Would I be forced to dangle from the cable for the rest of my life? Or what if the cable snapped and I plunged to my death below? Would my mother be mad at me then?
Also, did the harness I was wearing make my butt look big?
Finally, I wondered why I had ever signed up for the experience in the first place. The truth is that I am terrified of heights. My palms sweat, my stomach lurches and my mouth goes desert dry whenever I think of standing on a ledge and looking into the abyss.
And then I remembered. That’s exactly why I’d signed up. Eleanor Roosevelt once said you should do one thing every day that scares you, the implication being that facing your fears helps you to overcome them.
I’m not sure this is true. I’ve stood on the edge of the Empire State Building’s observation deck, gone up in a hot air balloon, taken a zip-line ride, and guess what. I’m still afraid of heights. I’m still afraid of a lot of things, actually, including my mother’s reaction to this column.
But I like to believe that if you keep doing things that scare you, you’ll at least acquire enough confidence to take the plunge.
Ann Cannon can be reached at email@example.com or facebook.com/anncannontrib.