“The last thing you want to take home is regret, right?” Kim, my zip-lining tour guide said to me as she clipped me to the cable wires. I nodded with a smile, as a memory of myself at thirteen flashed to mind.
It was a Friday, early summer. Dad and mom had taken the day off to take us as a family to Kings Dominion. I didn’t sleep at all the night before-filled with excitement. All my friends had advised me to ride the Anaconda. It was 1994, I was a Freshman in high school, 95 pounds, 4’11”. I hadn’t made it 5′ feet yet. The four of us, still too new to America, walked through the gates of our first amusement park ever and were knocked off our feet. The large blue fountain, the Eiffel tour, the gift shop to our right, the photographer who welcomed us and took our photograph the moment we entered as if we were celebrities. It was a perfect day to conquer my fears. After a quick bathroom stop for all of us, I quickly opened up the map and began to plan our path of adventure.
I figured we would warm up with the Avalanche, and the Grizzly and then attempt the Anaconda. This was the time when there were only a handful of roller coasters at Kings Dominion, not like today! I rode the Avalanche with mom and we were both thrilled by how cool it was. We went on the swings to air ourselves off and the tea-cups. We played some games to try to win the giant stuffed Snoopy, but lost and kept walking. With each ride, I would get off and remember I still hadn’t conquered the Anaconda.
When we finally came face to face with the Anaconda, I watched several times in attempt to get the courage and walked away. The entire 2 and a 1/2 hour drive home, I sat in regret. Completely drenched in it, I looked out the window punishing myself for not having the courage. That day I vowed to never feel this way again.
As a teen, this was my plight: I wanted to try all things adventurous, but the moment I failed or someone laughed at me, I quit. I remember trying to go skiing for the first time and being so scared that I walked down the hill sideways, taking me an hour to meet my friends. I remember in college going to St. Thomas and wanting so badly to go snorkeling, but losing my nerve at the last-minute. It was a trait I hated about myself: living in fear. Fear or not doing what I loved and simultaneously living with the fear of doing what I loved. Fear was the reason I quit singing, and acting and dancing–fear of not being good enough.
Then, two and half years ago, I went on my honeymoon to Hawaii for the first time. I was determined to try one activity that really scared me. N and I chose snorkeling because we really wanted to and it was the middle priced of all the others. The morning we were to snorkel, I woke with butterflies in my stomach. I knew I was going to do, but was so nervous about doing it right and if I’d be able to do it all. After a half hour ride out to this luminous bay in Maui, our snorkeling instructor announced, “I’ll be holding a class for first timers or a refresher for old timers in the front of the boat, join me there if you are either of those.” I looked at N and smiled, comforted that I would get a class before diving in. After a 5 minute lesson, we were off. As we made our way to the back of the catamaran, I asked N to please hold my hand at first, just in case. He nodded and we slid off the back holding hands. Floating in the bay with my hand securely in N’s, I felt completely safe. So safe, that I turned to him after a few seconds and gave him a thumbs up to let go with my heart in my mouth. It was the first time that I had attempted an adventurous activity feeling completely safe. That I realized that safety, unconditional safety was what I lacked in my life. N didn’t laugh at me or scare me further. Instead, he was there supporting me, encouraging.
So when Kim said, “the last thing you want to take home is regret”, I immediately knew I was going to trust fall backwards for this course. I glanced over the private ranch in Kauai where Jurassic Park and The Descendants were filmed. I looked at my chosen life partner, grinned, turned around, and listened to Kim count up: 1, 2, 3! N took off, but I couldn’t trust fall backwards on the zip-line; I just stood there uncertain. “Go!” She yelled. I shut my eyes for a moment and dove backwards. The wind rushed to support me, wrapping itself around my body like a baby being swaddled. When I opened my eyes, I saw the brilliant blue sky pass by and inhaled. “No regrets” I whispered.