Living lifelong human care, development, education, learning and service for all.
Yesterday, I went on a Ropes Course, inadvertently finding myself having to cross first a passage without ropes, except for my safety harness, and then a series of moving platforms.
For those who know me well, they know how much I am freaked out by seemingly or real unsecure heights. My legs go jelly; my heart rate accelerates and expletives tend to come out of my mouth, in a crazy, comedic way.
So I found myself geared up, behind my 11 year old son, who had already crossed the passage, and watching him cross it, I thought to myself: we can bail out right now; now is a good time to bail, except that he is already on it, and there are no ropes for him to hold on to. And what was I thinking? Clearly, I wasn’t, when I happily agreed to his request of doing the two-storey ropes course, while it was meant to be an easy day at the zoo.
The thoughts that whizzed through me: he took two years to walk. He could not lift his hands independently until at 9 months when he responded to my daily imaginary dose of sing-song insy-wincy spider going up the water spout. He could not sit without support way into nearly 14 months old. His first gymnastics session and I thought of Jennifer, the owner of the gym who saw his longing while waiting for his sister at the gym, and said to me: “Let’s try.”
I was standing behind him watching him lead the way. He said, “C’mon Mommy, you can do it.” It was too late for me to weep, too wide open for me to say, “I can’t do this.” Too celebratory for me not to go through what he can while I still couldn’t. And so, I walked the beam without ropes, I walked it only one way, “Through my fears.” Through my racing thoughts, crazy emotions, no tears, no whooping, but full-on concentration.
I looked at every step. I kept my balance. I listened to the coach, “You can do it. Take your time.” And when crossing the beam with intermittent poles, I could only really cross it because my son was cheering me on. This morning, I realised why I could cross it: My son believes in me. He believes that I can do anything that he can. I still don’t know how he crossed it.
With that crossing, I realise that what comes easy for some may be terrifying for others, and what to others is a show-and-tell or reality drama is downright terrifying reality.
And so, I would like to conjure that I might have conquered some of my own inner terror regarding unsecure passages.
The moving platforms with ropes were a little easier for me but I couldn’t figure where to apply myself to balance it all.
“Put both your hands on the ropes of the next platform to balance it, and then lift one foot and land it on the next platform, and then lift the other foot from the platform you are standing on,” the voice of the calm, gentle, encouraging young coach crooned out of nowhere. My responding sassy thought which didn’t get uttered, because I was actually listening this time, “Your forgot to say – Aunty.”
More whizzing, highly-charged-emotional-thoughts: All I want to do, all I have to do, is to get through it. Can’t turn back, can’t jump down, my son had already made the crossing, and he was born with such low muscle tones, and I was born with an ex-athlete’s muscle tones, and I hear the voices of everyone who had coached and mentored me my entire life, speaking to me, “You can do it, Peng-Ean. You always have it in you.”
And so I made the crossings. One after another. We finished half the first storey. Then the rains came. I am glad for the rains.
Then when the rains stopped, my son requested to have another go. He had already set his mind to complete the whole ropes course. He went with the coach all the way to the second storey. He crossed many, many more obstacles that I would never have thought was possible for him, yesterday, and certainly not 11 years ago. The boy who didn’t even have breath support to say “Ah” until 4 years old.
Yet, fast-forward 11 years on. His seemingly nonchalant crossings which were driven entirely by his own curiosity and joy, spoke to me one thing loud and clear, “Move on to the next platform, Mommy! We have many more adventures to discover and walk through!”
I am jubilant today.
I am jubilant for seemingly or real terrifying moving platforms.
Because, we can cross it. Whatever tight passages that life present to us, we can cross them. One step at a time. Slowly, carefully, deliberately, knowing that we will make the crossing, safe and sound.
And there is always someone, in front of you, behind you, a safety harness, a coach, a role model, and simply someone who believes in you.
Belief then became, an act of love, for me yesterday.
If we never cross the obstacles in front of us, we would never discover the satisfaction of completing the obstacles course.
However seemingly insurmountable and imperceivable the completion, at the start.
We write our own journeys. We cross our own mountains and valleys. And we walk the planks that have us find out that the sea is a glorious ocean of wonder, joy, and love beyond what we can ever imagine. If we don’t keep moving forward, we would never discover this simple, sublime, exquisite dive – into – bliss. Exhilaration. A freedom with no name.
Save, perhaps, the glory of life, unto itself.
Perhaps we are the mysterious bystanders who are actually not intended for bystanding, but intended for participation – fully, wholly, and then, completely ensues.
Perhaps, the meaning of completeness can only fully become from making through crossings after crossings of life’s many paradoxical obstacles and mazes.
Perhaps the freedom with no name can only truly be after having understood the reasons for the walking, and the walking itself. Sometimes by choice, sometimes, not by choice, but walk through it, we can.
Perhaps that freedom is better known as an action – a courage to trust. To trust that sometimes, and maybe, all the time, life has got us covered.
That life is – cradling us.
April 10, 2019