Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
I’ve been in a lot of beautiful churches in my years. None stands out more than Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. It was - and will be again - one of the most iconic church structures in the world. I say again because, in the spring of 2019, the 850-year-old house of worship nearly burned to the ground in a tragic fire. Restoration will continue for a couple more years. Nothing is quick or easy when you try to restore a 12th century church to its full glory.
We were there several times before the fire. In those days tourists could climb stairs alongside the main entrance to reach a wonderful vantage point, where one could look down at the square in front of the cathedral and well beyond into neighboring sections of Paris. It was open-air, but well-protected by a wall that kept visitors from falling three or four stories to the square below.
Now, something I don’t often admit is that I used to have a real fear of heights. Think near- paralyzing. So, while others peered out and over the protective wall, I stayed as far back as possible. As I leaned against the main structure - hyperventilating - I commended myself for having the courage to even be up there.
Fast forward perhaps 20 years and I find myself in Costa Rica, standing on a small wooden platform circling a tree about 30 feet in the air, with a forest below in all directions. Yes, the fearful one from the well-protected vantage point in Paris was now high up looking down at huge trees below. Not hyperventilating too badly. And, before I knew it, I had gone from platform 1 to platform 2 in my quest to zipline away my lifetime fear of heights.
Altogether, there were 11 platforms that day. I encountered (and conquered) successive ones, up to platform 7. As you step off each platform into the unknown, you dip and gain speed as you approach the next one that is up again. The key is to gain enough speed going down to carry you back up again. I failed to do that approaching number 7. I had braked mistakenly, costing me a lot of speed.
I found myself stopped some 25 feet below that next platform looking skyward at an instructor on the platform. I called out, What should I do? He smiled and said, Pull yourself up hand-over-hand. Yikes. I hadn’t signed up for this (or maybe I had). Try doing that sometime and you will rather quickly discover you are using back and shoulder muscles you didn’t know you had and you now have some new aches and pains that won’t go away quickly.
But, I made it. And, on to platforms 8 and 9. I was the first in our family party to finish. I waited at the bottom for the stragglers.
So what did you think, Dad?
Piece of cake, I responded. No problem.
If you’ll excuse me now, it’s time for physical therapy for my shoulders.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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