The ruminations of an artist on art & quilts, beading, knitting, drawing, painting, printmaking, bookmaking are all my passions, I love to explore creating....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Conquering Fear in the Jungle

Leaving Kumasi (note : I am not writing these posts in chronological order) we climbed into our bus and headed to Elmina on the coast. Shirley Mae had our daily (sometimes twice daily!) adventure planned--a stop along the way at Kakum National Park---one of West Africa's last surviving tropical rain forests. Extending over 360 sq. kilometers, Kakum is the home to over 40 large mammals and 400 bird species as well as many species of butterflys, flora and fauna.

Not that I saw much of these treasures--I was too busy conquering my fear--because the adventure Shirley had lined up for us was crossing a canopy walkway --made up of 7 bridges extending 330m---hanging 100 feet above the forest floor. Sounds like fun, huh?

remember--it is still hot and humid--about 90 degrees? but we enter the Park

oh--I forgot to mention--before we walk on the canopy walkway---we have to first hike uphill awhile in the jungle forest---where I did see some interesting birds and butterflies

this sign was at the beginning of the trail

Now, since my 30's I have not enjoyed situations where I am up high---in fact a few months ago I visited the rim of the Grand Canyon in Nevada and was overcome by fear when anyone ---even other tourists---ventured to close to the edge of the rim overlooking the Canyon---but I thought--"Oh, this won't be so bad--- I can do this" --still blissfully unaware that there were seven "canopy bridges" to walk across. So we arrive at the take off spot---the guide tells us--"if you are afraid, don't look down--just look ahead" (this should have been a clue to me, but I was so sure I would be fine) . The first person starts out

yes! it really is that narrow--one plank---but it looks pretty safe and stable to me--(the guide assures us no one has ever fallen) so I follow behind the next person (Koala) but after 5 steps the walkway is swaying and moving and I am clutching the ropes on the sides till my hands hurt---oh! oh! what have I gotten myself into?

overwhelming fear fills me----I want to go back! I look behind me---no turning back--people behind me---no room to turn around or pass anybody!---oh no! I should not be here....I breathe deep for a few minutes and try to calm down--my stomach is churning--I am so scared I cannot move---someone will have to rescue me (how humiliating) and then I think--"fear! the only way out is through" and I resolutely look at the person in front of me (don't look down!!!) and start off moving slowly along the swaying and jouncing narrow blank.....

see the pole at the end of this walkway--past the person walking here? there were seven walkways--and in between were those poles (or trees?) with a round platform with rope net railings built around them---for observation---but each time I reached one I was so relieved and then apprehensive that I must go on---I had my camera--but was too full of irrational fear to look around much or take any photos. I did try to get some photos of the other walkways---you could see them through the jungle--with folks moving slowly along them---but I was much to preoccupied with conquering my fear and getting to the end to enjoy the view of the jungle.

Now, looking back on this experience----I did eventually move through my fear and walked across all seven walkways to arrive back on solid ground---

I see this as a metaphor for parts of my life: keep moving forward and on into the future to conquer any fears in my life. For instance, I currently have some apprehension around finding a job in state with over 10% unemployment--- but walking the Kakum Canopy Walkway has given me the solution--just keep moving forward through the fear, and way will open.


Mary Timme said...

Yikes. I hate places that are high up and swinging. I like your way of going through as a metaphor for living

Gillian Vik said...

What a great post, Aurora! I love the message and how you applied it to your life back home. We all need courage to face these hard times. Thank you for sharing!

Gretchen said...

I am so proud of you.