How I Spent my Birthday

…or, is there any reason for a 51-year-old woman with fibromyalgia to go zip-lining?

It was supposed to be a Chopin recital in Blacksburg. Garrick Ohlsson. Only it got cancelled because of a scheduling conflict. I’m not all that surprised, since I was wondering why a pianist of this magnitude was coming to Blacksburg in the first place.

So, hubby had already scheduled to take the day off, and we had nowhere to go. Alecto sent me Maxwell’s zip line commercial for my birthday, and that got me thinking. Since I’d just been to the high country for the annual ski retreat (think 35 teenagers, 10 adults and Ski Sugar, it’s scary) I knew there were zip lines around. There are billboards all over the place, advertising the adventure. One interweb search and two clicks later, there it was. Hawksnest. I emailed hubby at work: “Can we go ziplining? Please??” Knowing full well that he was NOT interested in doing anything like this.  He gets sick riding the Teacup at the fair; he ain’t gonna do this.

Only he did. He answered, “I’ll do it. For you.” So, we got up the next morning, dressed appropriately and headed up the mountain. He didn’t speak, at all, until we arrived in Boone, early. We checked out the student housing he’d drawn the plans for, talked about getting food and decided not to. Then we headed to Seven Devils, NC. Switchback roads galore.

Hawksnest used to be a ski resort. Now it’s snow tubing and the zip line course. There were several people snow tubing. We were still early, so we wandered around a bit, then sulked our way into the zip line office. They had us scheduled to go out with another group in an hour. But, one phone call and 5 minutes later, there were two guides suited up and ready to take us out. First we had to sign the release that says, in essence, that the resort is not responsible if you die during your adventure. Hey, I had to sign the same form many moons ago when I went white water rafting on the French Broad. Not much white water-it was a class II/III ride, the first rule was “no splashing”, and as soon as we were all in the water, what did our guide do?  Splashed us repeatedly until we were soaked, of course.

Harness, hardware, helmet and gloves. Check. Out we go, up the steps to the first platform. Five minutes of instruction and I’m attached to the line. Good thing the guide said it was ok if you wound up backwards, because I did. Then it was hubby’s turn. Did he turn backwards: nope.

Long story, short. Nine lines, plus a swinging bridge. Hubby performed like a pro. I had some teensy issues, and one rescue stop that was AWESOME. It took an hour, and we were back in the office, peeling off gear. I was grinning. Hubby wasn’t green. We’re ok.

On the way back down the mountain, hubby is speaking to me again. After some debriefing, we decide that I would definitely do it again, and yep, he probably would too. We learned a lot about ourselves during our adventure.

Which leads me to the original question: Is there any reason for a 51-year-old woman with fibromyalgia to go zip-lining? You know the answer, but just in case, I’ll spell it out for you: YES!!!! YesYesYesYesYes!!!!!!!!!

Why? Well, because

I learned that it is essential to trust your gear. It’s designed to take care of you, so let it. I didn’t learn this lesson very well until afterward, when my biceps were so stiff I couldn’t move my arms. I was holding on to the gear so tightly, as if it was all up to ME to keep myself from plunging to the snow tubers below. Our guides were amazing to watch, gliding across the lines, flapping their arms like birds, or just laying on their backs, riding the wind. It was right there in front of me, but I didn’t see it until AFTER I was suffering from my lack of vision. Hubby didn’t have nearly as much trouble with this one as I did.

However, hubby learned (and I learned through osmosis) that fear is crippling. He didn’t speak to me on the way up because he was TERRIFIED of what we were going to do. As it turns out, his fear was unfounded. Now he’s thinking about fear and what he’s allowed it to do in his life. And so am I.

We both learned to trust our teachers, and sometimes teachers don’t look like “teachers”. At other times our  teachers are the same age, or younger, than our children. Maybe our children are trying to teach us something while we’re trying to teach them something else?

Listening is important, and can mean the difference between safety and potential danger. The same is true of observation. Shut up and look at what’s going on around you, ok? Again, that works both ways with our children. We all need to listen more and observe more and talk less.

I’m sure there were other lessons in there that I can’t exactly get from by brain, through my fingers, and into this text box. But they ARE there, and they will make their presence known when the appropriate time comes.

I didn’t really address how the lessons apply directly to fibromites. But, if you are one, then you should see your part as it goes by.

And the most important thing I learned: If someone loves you enough to say “Yes, I’ll do it, for you, even though I am terrified”, then, well…that’s what love looks like.

Pure. Adrenaline.


2 responses to “How I Spent my Birthday

  1. very very cool. I particularly find fear interesting. It can be a very useful, incredibly useful, tool. But it can also be the force that keeps us from, well, from being ourselves. What is it that that doofus singer says? Fear is a friend who is misunderstood.

  2. AND there was no flashlight involved! xxxxoooo!

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