As I was attached to the cable above me, my stomach started doing flip flops knowing that there was no going back. I thought back to the moment when the safety instructor had that my harness could hold 2.5 tons. – I knew I wasn’t anywhere near that weight but I still didn’t want to test its limits.
Go back twenty fours hours and thought of what I was going to do the following morning was making me feel sick. Forty minutes of an aerial journey through the trees finished off with a sixty-foot climb to a metal platform where I’d be abseiling across a large pond. – Looking up that morning at how high that days ‘victims’ were high above me, I wasn’t looking forward to my journey the following day.
Ever do that? Say you’ll do something on the spur of the moment, or something you don’t give much thought to, and on the day wondering what was going through your mind to make that decision? That’s where I now found myself.
Going across rope bridges and cargo nets high above the ground, I knew there was a reason I needed to do this. Hard and all as it was, and as terrified as I was knowing my final journey would be, I knew I needed to do it. – If I didn’t, that regret would live with me for days. But if I could get through the next forty minutes that accomplishment would live with me forever.
Regret is an impossible pill to swallow. And given a time machine, I’m sure there are moments of your life that you’d want to redo. Times when it was easier to say no, or take the easier route. But when you did, that moment lived with you for the rest of your life.
My biggest regret is not going to see my friend James before he died from cancer. For weeks beforehand I’d known he wasn’t doing well and that he’d wanted to see me. But faced with seeing him, I chickened out. – I’ll do it tomorrow. What would I say to him? Maybe things aren’t as bad as I’d heard? And a hundred other excuses went through my head.
Then the news came that he’d passed away.
Going to his funeral, I was embarrassed to be there. How could I mourn someone that I hadn’t even gone to see? I felt like a fraud being there. And although his girlfriend told me that James understood my decision, to me it wasn’t forgivable. I chickened out. My friend had wanted to see me, and I’d turned my back on him in his hour of need.
Reaching the end of the swaying bridge, and making my climb to the top of the sixty-foot tower, I replayed that moment in my head. I’d only another ten minutes of discomfort but on the other side of it, I knew that achievement would live with me forever. – I’d got over my fear of heights, and had the courage to zipline a hundred feet across a pond too.
Flying across the pond, with my son Finn on a parallel cable opposite me, I waved down at my wife who was recording the whole thing from start to finish. ‘Well? Was is it good?’ She asked, on meeting us. ‘Was it as good as you thought?’
‘It was even better,’ I remarked, taking my phone off her and looking for the video of our final descent. I scrolled back through the images and found shots of our dog on its leash and other ones of shadows on the ground. ‘There’s nothing here?’
‘But I took ones of you?’ Catherine scrolled back through what she took. All there was was a small video of us having our safety harnesses and helmets on. One of my greatest achievements and there was nothing to show for it.
My moment of anger passed, maybe life was teaching me a lesson here? That even though I’d put myself through it all no one would know that I did it. I’d got no proof that I’d been up there and put myself through one of my greatest fears. And then I remembered, there was one person that would know and that was me. And wasn’t that the only person that it mattered to.
Even though I’ve nothing to show for what I did that day, there’s one thing I don’t have to live with and that’s the regret that I chickened out and didn’t do it. Our fears can last for minutes, but regret can live with us for the rest of our life.
Do the thing that scares you, because you’ll be so glad you did it.