I could die today. What if the clasp pops out or the cable snaps while my body careens through the air at 40 miles per hour? Chills ran through my body and I could feel tension rising in my chest. Jesus be a safety net.
Fear has the paralyzing ability to stop you dead in your tracks. Morbid images violently kidnap your thoughts creating physical symptoms of distress, or what scientists call the physiological “fight or flight” reaction to a potentially harmful event. As our van came to a halt at Vida Aventura Nature Park, we were greeted by a friendly man holding a plate of juicy, ripe pineapple slices. The peaceful early morning ride had taken us through Guanacaste and up into the northern hills of Costa Rica to a beautiful reserve on the south-west slopes of Rincon de la Vieja National Park. It was my idea. I had heard somewhere that ziplining was a major tourist activity in Costa Rica and it was high on my list of things to do. My anxiety-inducing fear of heights would be all but forgotten at the click of a harness – or so I thought.
“You have the park all to yourselves. Friday is our slowest day.” The tour guide snapped me out of my thoughts as she started escorting us up the hill with two children in tow. It never occurred to us, in the midst of taking selfies that 5-year old Cam and 8-year old Gen were participating in the canopy tour until we were all harnessed in and standing on the first platform. As my companions discussed who would brave the high-speed cables first, Cam and Gen stepped up to the front, our guide scooped them up one by one, attached their harnesses to the cable and sent them squealing and kicking their legs above the trees.
“Wait a minute…did they just hop on the line kicking and squealing like it was some dang monkey bars?” Ziplining has brought grown women to tears when faced with the possibility of falling to their death and two babies just hopped on the line like it was nothing. We can’t go out like that! Call it pride, ego or spiritual enlightenment but I was hopping on that cable and it was going to be fun. Attitude adjusted. Fears all but washed away. It was GO time. I was about to make not one, but six lines of increasing speed and altitude my bitch!
What an insane adrenaline rush it was. Even after taking a running leap off a rocky platform, failing the upside down Spiderman challenge and having to physically pull myself in after getting stuck over the valley, it was an experience for the books. The half-day tour consisted of ziplining through the forest with the husband and wife duo, horseback riding up a mountain and through a stream, a delicious traditional Costa Rican lunch prepared by our guide’s mother, a soak in the thermal pool, volcanic mud and aloe vera natural spa treatment and pool time. The perfect blend of adventure and relaxation in an absolutely gorgeous setting.
Although the language barrier prevented us from communicating with our young friends, they were a special part of the tour and embodied “Pura Vida” to the fullest. They reminded me that some fears need not be permanent. Fears are developed by conditioning or past experiences and can be overcome instantly. Fear prevents us from experiencing things that have the ability to change our perspective if only we’d try it. Even though perceived danger sometimes rarely translates into actual physical harm, people have a tendency to lean toward the ‘it could happen to me’ thought process. In Cam and Gen’s case, ziplining, horseback riding and being surrounded by nature is an integral part of their lives and just watching them inspired us to shed all inhibitions and release our inner child.
So the next time you feel fear taking over, ask yourself “What would a five year old do?”.
Subira Willock is the creator of Black Travel Snob, a travel lifestyle brand for the hip-hop generation that connects music with world travel. Follow @blacktravelsnob on Twitter and Instagram or visit btsnob.com for more stories.