A few weeks back my 7-year-old daughter and I signed up for a trapeze lesson on a whim. I happen to have had a fairly serious freak accident on a trapeze when I was nine, but hey, that was almost 20 years ago and the students we saw at the Trapeze School looked like they were having a blast. Gavin and I were so excited the day of the lesson we literally dashed up the 6 flights of stairs, taking two at a time to get to school that is located on top of a gorgeous pier on the Hudson River in lower Manhattan. We both had this knowing "we got this" feeling in our hearts.
The lesson went well, we were all belted up and my turn was before Gavin's. It wasn't until I was on the 10th rung that I got an old yet familiar pang of fear in my belly. I practice living life with openness and a deep belief that you can empower yourself through any situation with the aligned support and to be fair, I also get to practice this as a living so it usually come through me as a flow rather than a force.
But once on the top of the platform my palms were sweating, I felt dizzy with the sun beaming down on me and off the Hudson River. My mantras and breathing technics fell deaf as I pivoted around the edge. I was told to reach for the bar. "I...I can't," I said with an unfamiliar voice of fear. I knew the instructor was giving me directions but I couldn't comprehend them and I didn't seem to move.
Suddenly, time stopped.
Another person from the class appeared next to me and I grasped to a rope in a corner, watching her take her turn with ease.
She just swung, fluid, beautiful even. I sort of laughed at my prior hesitation and let them know I was ready to go now, I just needed to see someone up close.
"I got this," I whispered to myself. I reached for the bar. My throat immediately closed up, my chest tightened, my neck ached like it might crack and I could hardly see because my eyes were fully watered.
"I can't. I won't. I can't do this." I repeated and leaned back onto the platform. There were two instructors up with me now trying to coach and explain how it is easier to swing down than climb down, but my brain couldn't comprehend there was a step two. All I could handle was my fear and how the fear I had terrified and ruined something so special for my daughter who was witnessing this meltdown.
I then looked over and saw she had appeared. My beautiful, newly 7-year-old daughter had climbed with vigor to the top and was standing next to me. "What's going on Mommy, why aren't you going?"
I breathed, it might have been the first time I took an actual breath in minutes because the sheer act of breathing made me light headed. "I'm a little afraid, I'm sorry. " I ekked out, trying to conceal a fear I knew was irrational. She looked at me and smiled, "It's ok. It doesn't have to be scary," she said as she allowed the teacher to latch her to the ropes.
I watched her drop down, this tiny little body not more than 40 lbs, falling through the air.
She swung her legs up to the bar when instructed, reaching her arms far and broad, gliding with confidence and sheer bliss.
She was her own person, on her own path not limited or restrained, even by her mother. Overwhelmed with awe and joy for her, tears streamed down my face and it felt like my heart expanded through my body, past my being. This was the feeling of love and gratitude and awe in its tangible form.
I did end up jumping, several times that day. But what I will hold forever is the memory of when I was paralyzed with fear, my daughter taught me how to fly.