Inspiration on the Ropes
Things don't always turn out the way they are planned. As they say, 'the only constant is change'. Jane announced about the rain forecast and how the programme needed to change. We were going to the high ropes instead of ‘communication’, first thing the next morning. ‘No one has ever been injured in the safe hands of Neels,’ Navneet assured us. I remember the nervous excitement, the eager anticipation, the brave mental preparation to go up there and prove to myself that I am adventurous and despite the fear of heights, I can do it.
I listened to fellow colleagues, who registered their fears of going through that ominous high ropes’ course. Some just looked all brave and unfazed. Then of course there was Youssouf, the brave one, who broke the ice and demonstrated to us what a ‘piece of cake’ it was to go through and instilled confidence in the team. I later learnt he in fact felt fearful at some point but felt he could not give up for our sake. Christine on the other hand, had gone up half way but the fear of heights got the better of her and she gave up.
Then it was my turn after watching several other people go up and complete the course. Halfway up the ladder, I started experiencing how hard the climb was. I realised for the first time in my life that 12 metres of stairs is probably higher than I could ever have imagined. I have climbed higher mountains before, but it has always been exciting not this tiresome experience. Anyway, there was no going back. Christine ahead of me was my inspiration, having been convinced by colleagues to go up again. All of a sudden, fear started creeping in and palms getting sweaty out of nowhere. I could feel the platform move under me and wondered if I was beginning to feel dizzy. Fear just has a way of spoiling confidence.
I watched Christine ahead of me going through the floating timber and me following right behind. Her every achievement was my inspiration that I could also do it. Then came that moment when it appeared like Christine would fall off the ropes, struggling to keep her balance, entangled between the ropes and failing to stay on her feet until she had to manoeuvre otherwise to complete.
Crisis somehow teaches one to either panic and create more problems or relax and find a solution. To counter the potential fear emanating from Christine’s experience, I decided not to watch but concentrate on my strategy to go through. Jumping off the platform was definitely not one of my favourable options. I carefully listened to instructions on how to go through and managed to calmly complete the rest of the course, not to mention that it took a while after I got back to the ground to calm my nerves. I am not sure I want to go back up there.
Through it all, I have learnt that nothing is cast in stone and if one strategy fails, try another. There is no one way of doing things.
By Monica Muti (Zimbabwe)