The Slide of Death
Okay, it wasn’t really the slide of death, it wasn’t even a slide I could seriously hurt myself on, but as I sat at the top and pushed off, my heart beat rapidly and I couldn’t help the single thought that went through my head, “What the hell am I doing?”
I landed safely with a large splash in the pool and children and adults around the slide smiled. Not many adults go down the water slide alone, but summer was ending and I wasn’t sure when I would have the opportunity to go down another water slide. The exhilarating feeling at the bottom was completely worth the small amount of fear, but I have to admit, I only went down once.
I then started thinking about how fearless I was as a child. I would run through the woods like crazy, slide down waters slides, and face monsters hiding in the shadows. Yet, as I’ve gotten older, and perhaps wiser, I’m not as fearless as I once was. What if I get hurt hiking alone? What if a mugger is hiding in the shadows? What if I face plant at the bottom of the slide?
Why do things that excite us as a child, scare us so much as adults?
Not that these thoughts have stopped me from taking risks. I spent two days hiking the Sentiero Rosso in Italy alone last month. I travel to countries where I don’t understand the language or know anyone living there. And I go down “the slide of death” to prove that I can conquer my fears if only for a few seconds.
I wasn’t fearless as a child, it’s just that my fears and the risks I take have changed over the years. Now, I don’t want a spider anywhere near me, yet I used to play with daddy long legs as a child. Ten years ago, I would never have bought a one-way ticket to Europe without any set plans to return. Two months ago, I did just that, two weeks before departure.
My fears may have changed and I may not be willing to take certain risks anymore, but I’m also doing things that I never would have done before. I guess it’s all part of growing up.