Soaring Heights

20180929_121135I went on a zipline. Technically, it was called a zoomline, because it was the high option. It’s a zipline high over Fremont Street in Las Vegas, and my sister and I signed up to fly like Superman.

She wasn’t as excited about the adventure as I was, but she was a good sport about it. Our preparation process from arriving to the site to flying through the air was long enough for plenty of second-guessing. But I had none. They weighed me, suited me with gear, sent me even higher in an elevator, and I watched several groups of people get hooked up and released before me.

Still, no apprehension.

When it was our turn, my sister and I laid face down on platforms – deceptively resembling massage tables – which lift high enough to meet the cable and pulley system above us. Site staff clipped and tightened our straps, double-checked everything, then lowered the tables beneath us so we were just hanging in the air. But we were still in the tower. There was still a surface close below us as well as a half wall separating us from the rest of the cable that would carry us through the air for close to a minute at speeds up to 40 miles an hour.

20180929_121122Then that half wall lowered, and we hung there, staring a very long way to the ground.

I looked at my sister, who had suddenly come to peace about the whole thing and was ready to fly.

I, on the other hand, had a moment of “What on earth am I doing?”

  1. 2. 1.

Too late. I was suddenly soaring. My fear didn’t last long. I fully enjoyed the thrill. I held my hands outstretched by my ears just like Superman – or Wonder Woman. I looked at the people far below, many whom were looking up to watch us soar overhead.

And just like that, we were on the other end of the street.

Sometimes, anticipation, apprehension, and adventure are tightly woven together. When we let just one of them rule, we might find ourselves too fearful to experience life or too foolish to make wise decisions.

Life is too rich to compartmentalize it based on our assumptions and expectations. I am glad I soared that night. It reminded me that a moment of fear is overcomeable. Perhaps, in the context of adventure, it made my experience a bit richer.

Travelling Alone

photo-1521200039080-c704f509c0c2I had taken a trip since my ex left me, but the divorce was still in process. Two friends had schemed to give me a getaway filled with healing, peace, and process. It was difficult and amazing.

Recently, I took a different kind of trip, one intended for fun, full of celebration and adventure and new experiences.

Without my ex – the person I planned to do life with, the one who traveled with me through everyday life but also on many adventurous trips to get away, find new experiences, make new memories.

But he wasn’t a part of this trip.

And that was okay. It’s becoming okay. I had a great trip. I savor the new memories I’ve made. I’ve changed my expectations of possibilities. I see so many couples travelling together, and I wonder where they are in life, and I appreciate them. I am not bitter that they have something that I don’t. I am thankful they have what I enjoyed for many years. I don’t want anyone else to feel the depth of betrayal and disrespect and isolation that I have experienced by the person I shared life with and loved. I want others to travel together – on new adventures and everyday life. If I can’t have it, I certainly want others to.

My life has most definitely changed. Some of my options have changed. But I can still choose contentment. I will savor new memories and appreciate the many opportunities and blessings in my life. I will choose new paths on which to grow, one step at a time.

No matter what you are facing today, no matter the uncertainties, apprehensions, or disappointments, appreciate well. Choose well. Adventure well.

Life is inviting you to participate.

#lifegoals

photo-1535981767287-35259dbf7d0eI hadn’t known my fellow ATVers for long, but we bonded over the experience. At the end of our ride, we compared our filthy clothes and exposed skin. Our guide told us about a group who hadn’t planned to ATV on vacation, so once they booked the excursion, they went to the store and bought souvenir-style sweats and shirts. Their plan was to get them dirty, then toss them in the trash.

One of my fellow ATVers said, “That’s my goal – to have enough money that I can just buy clothes to wear for the day and toss aside. #lifegoals.”

We all have #lifegoals, things we think determine progress or success in our lives. We might chuckle or scoff at other’s life goals, but we have our own that spur someone else’s chuckles or scoffs. The point isn’t to receive others’ approval or avoid their disapproval. We need to be a bit more discerning about our life goals. We need to widen our perspective to assess what truly has value in life, not just personally but absolutely.

We’re still going to pursue some of the sillier, less important things of life, but what are our core life goals? If it’s about getting “enough” money, our definition of enough will shift with our income. If it’s about getting “enough” admiration and accolades for our achievements, we’ll find our definition of enough is built on shifting sand, and people’s opinions and attention will change. If it’s about getting “enough” happiness, we’ll discover the definition of happiness is fleeting because it is often built on temporary experiences we define by feelings instead of a more deeply satisfying purpose.

You might think you know what your deeply-abiding lifegoals are, but does your everyday life reflect your pursuit of them? Do your words and actions point you and others toward your lifegoals?

It’s worth the effort and humility to break apart your assumptions about your lifegoals and reconstruct them with intention and purpose.

What You Can Do Without

photo-1533761883396-a424d257e1d4The billboard read, “Last Starbucks for 100 miles.”

I have no doubt that billboard prompts some drivers to exit the interstate. I also have no doubt many drivers proceed without caring.

We’re all willing to stop for something, especially when we realize we won’t get to access it for awhile. Phone access? A favorite food? An addiction? A relationship? A habit, healthy or not?

What would you go out of your way for, and what would you stop for if it was the last opportunity for a while?

When you can answer that question, you’ll know something about your priorities. You might be pleasantly surprised, and you might decide you need to make some changes. Either way, be honest with yourself.

Honesty and humility is essential for growth and change.

Settle In

photo-1495587451850-569e88f098c0I thought my sister would drive the ATV. I don’t know why I assumed that. I became accustomed to being the rider when I went on trips with my dad. I thought I’d be the passenger again. But my sister thought the same thing. I was certainly willing to drive, and it’s not as if it was super difficult, but I listened to the instructions, started the engine, and pressed the gas.

Nothing happened.

I made sure it was in gear, then tried again. I needed to apply more pressure than expected. I took a few slow laps around the parking lot and signaled I was ready to start the trails. The surface surprised me. It took me a while to figure out the best speed as I hit washboards. In addition to getting comfortable with the steering and speed, I tried to get used to my headgear. I had worn a helmet before but not goggles – which couldn’t be worn with sunglasses – so I adjusted to see well in the bright sun.

After about 20 minutes, I realized I was leaning forward a bit. If I didn’t relax, I would be exhausted by the end of the ride. I was expending more energy than was necessary. So I leaned back and took a deep breath. What a difference. I still had to pay attention and put forth some effort, but I let my body’s natural shock absorbers do the work.

Settling in for the ride doesn’t mean settling. We still need to put forth effort, apply what we know, make sound decisions. But we can let the resources God gave us help the effort. It’s a cooperation process.

Settle in today. Commit and exert effort but also trust God to take care of what he says he can and will. You’ll be a lot less exhausted. You’ll still get bruised and tired, but not nearly as much as if you try to do it all without him.

Strange Driving

photo-1521853056524-aca372bffae7Yesterday, I wrote about how an ATV ride in the desert reminded me that visibility matters. I learned something else from that ride.

As I drove through a variety of depths of sand and degrees of roughness, I marveled at how much like driving in snow I felt in the sand. There were times I didn’t easily get traction, times when I fishtailed, times when I had to modify my speed and approach to a turn.

Different surface but similar experience.

There are some people who would have no problem driving in snowy conditions who would feel challenged in dry, sandy conditions – and vice versa. But just because we haven’t had a specific experience doesn’t mean we can’t apply what we know to another experience or relate to someone with a different experience.

It also doesn’t mean we are automatically experts just because we can relate to someone or something. Let’s be humble in what we know and how we generalize and apply it. But let’s also be willing to learn new things and apply them in ways that can help us and others.

Maybe you won’t be ATVing in the desert anytime soon, but I have no doubt you will drive through some new experiences today and in the coming days. God is equipping you to handle them well.

Visibility

photo-1518568071681-a4efdb560520My sister and I went ATVing in the desert. It was dusty.

Duh.

We were prepared to get dirty. We weren’t surprised by the amount of dust…until we reach the flats.

The sand and dirt is packed tightly, creating one of the few places we didn’t have to worry about obstacles or dips causing us to tip or run off a trail. The lead ATV and the two behind them took off. We were in the back, and I started to speed up quickly, but I soon hit a blinding wall of thick dust.

I was sure the others were far ahead already, but I could see nothing through the dust, so I slowed down and hung back until it began to settle a bit. Once I had more visibility, I took off and enjoyed seeing how fast I could (comfortably) go.

Visibility matters.

I knew there were no turns on the flats. I knew I was only driving a straight line all the way across. I had glimpsed the lay of the land. But no amount of information I gathered ahead of time solved my temporary visibility issue. I needed to be able to see, and the only way to do that was to slow down and let the dust settle a bit. I didn’t have to stop altogether. I still made progress. I just needed to take a pace conducive in the circumstance.

We all run into limited visibility at some point every day. Sometimes it is a physical visibility issue, but more often, it’s relationship, emotional, or spiritual visibility issues. We need to slow down, continuing to creep forward yet keep some momentum. We need to proceed with caution. We’ll be able to speed up again. We’ll be able to see well again. But we need to heed the warning signs in the meantime.

Be attentive and keep your eyes open today.

Remember, visibility matters.