It’s all very simple really. The vent covers of the three fans in the roof of our Camp Lite travel trailer had not been cleaned and there was visible dirt. I had hoped it wasn’t mold but we just couldn’t be sure. The only problem was that to clean it, I had to climb up over the top rung of a very tall ladder to get onto the roof. “Just don’t look down,” became my strategy. So up I went over 10 feet into the air . . .
Before I knew it everything was as clean as it could be. Now it was time to figure out how to get down. “Just roll onto your belly and throw your legs over the edge,” was the coaching of my beloved Stevers safely on the ground below. Yeah right. Easy for you to say. I decided to reverse the procedure I had used to get over the edge and onto the roof, whilst clinging to the lip of the first open vent. The rubber gasket over the aluminum panel had held me once, surely it would hold me again? Yes it did. And with a few very clear requests to have my spotter stop cracking nerve-wracking jokes, I was able to make my way down the ladder and into earthbound civilization once again.
The view was pretty neat up there. The sky was painted orange sherbet with streaks of steel blue against the line of trees behind the homes of our neighbors. As long as I stayed away from the edge and didn’t look down, I was fine. Hmmm. I quickly remembered during my descent, one of the first times I had to employ such a strategy. It wasn’t on the roof of a travel trailer. We’re talking many decades ago . . .
My dad was always afraid of heights. They call it acrophobia. I suppose you could hypothesize that I somehow identified with his fear, taking it on irrationally at an early age. I really don’t know how that works. What I remember is his frightful reaction to taking a ride on the Space Spiral at Cedar Point: an amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. He would not go near the edge to look out the window. He stood frozen like a statue with his back to the wall of the elevating compartment in which we rode up then down. He said nothing but to scold us when we asked what was wrong. Wow. That was crippling fear.
The Space Spiral was a central attraction of the Midway or carnival area at Cedar Point. When I worked at the amusement park my sophomore year of college, I found it kind of relaxing to take a ride up over the park as I “played animal” on my day off. The energy of people screaming from the roller coasters, indulging in sugary treats, and sun-burning themselves while running from one attraction to another was kinda fun, amusing even to watch. Later in the summer I spent more of my free time taking the ferry from The Point to Sandusky to shop for real food. The employee cafeteria menu tasted too much like the commons in the dormitories at Eastern Michigan University and many of us know what dorm food is like, eh? Eeeek!
The feeling of my guts dropping into my loins when leaning over a ledge or riding the Space Spiral had never left me though. Sure, I visited other amusement parks and even returned to Cedar Point over the years. I even rode in a 4-seater Cessna transport plane over the mountain tops of the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho with the windows open in the late 1990’s with little more than a quick prayer to pass my worries. But when I got back on the ground this past Sunday after climbing over the edge of our camper, I felt that very old fear flooding to the surface. The emotion overtook me for a time.
I stood in our driveway bleeding with tears. I had chosen to face my fear of heights, or rather my fear of leaning over the edge of a tall ledge, and finally won. I made an adult decision and the child inside became less afraid; I’ll know for sure the next time I have to crawl someplace ridiculously out of reach if the task is really complete or not. For now, I am no longer sad but rather pleased. I did it!
Who knows where this stuff that holds us back really comes from anyways. Only the Lord knows if we will have victory when that day comes and our countenance is tested. As for me, I believe that He also knows the activities, the experiences, the fullness of living that I have avoided over the course of my life due to this fear or that. I can see clearly that to live in any type of fear is not the way to go through my days. My Jesus is with me always. I will be o.k. I can take a look around, like the 360-degree turn of a Space Spiral and take in all there is before me with my eyes wide open, my arms wide open too.
Gentle Reader, there is so much living left to do! Won’t you join me in embracing something new today? I tell you: the sky is the limit! Tee hee. JJ