Fear

Fear, true fear, ultimately comes from the emotional part of our brain.

Personally, I think it was how we died in a previous life and our spirit stored it that way so we wouldn’t, you know, taunt a lion, again, get stung by a bee and die from an allergic reaction, or climb to the top of a mountain to see the view only to slip and fall 10,000 ft to splat on the rocks below.

So, while the Jet boat ride in Whistler was fun, I have to say, ¾ of us were all a little nervous about this whole zip-lining thing.

Oh, we’d all been on a zip-line before and I found it scary at first, but ultimately kinda exhilarating. This one, however, looked simply terrifying.

It was called the Sasquatch and went for 2.2 km. You’d reach speeds of 120kmh (or faster if you were a heavy beast like me.)

When The-Youngest told us he wanted to do it, we said, no. Actually, I think we said hell no. But foolishly, we gave both boys the power to do one thing they wanted to do in Whistler and this was his thing. The-Oldest, as you may recall from the last post, wanted to play the piano.

The-Youngest showed us youtube videos to make us less scared. He got a pamphlet saying what fun it would be. He read testimonials and pointed out that no one has died.

So we relented.

Yes, that’s the Sasquatch zip-line

It really wasn’t until we were at the base of the mountain looking up at a line of red balloon-like markers spanning the two peaks, that we realized what this ride was about. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World said, wow, I guess they don’t want planes flying between the peaks or they’re worried about the nearby gondola.

No, The-Youngest said, “That’s showing where the zip-line is.”

My eye began to twitch at that.

Getting geared up

But a deal is a deal, we took the van up to the zip-line point, climbed a huge freaking tower and stood there looking at the drop, the zip-line sagging straight down.

We all went pale except for The-Oldest who shrugged and said he thought it would be scarier.

Are you kidding me?

I was terrified.

Being afraid of heights, standing there, looking down, I couldn’t simply override my lizard brain with a whole litany of logic.

No one’s died.

It’ll be over quick.

I’m attached to a solid steel cable.

Even the Dune Litany failed me. I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to wash through me. And when it is gone, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Well, all and good for some Dune prophet but it didn’t help me one bit. I was still terrified.

So was The-Youngest. And The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, both pale as ghosts, but despite their keen desire to find a reason to turn back, they didn’t.

They took the plunge.

Then came my turn (and The-Oldest’s.)

He got hooked up and marched down the steps and stood on the brink of doom like it was nothing.

Me, I was shaking.

By the time the doors opened, I was shaking a lot.

Now for some people, this is no big deal. They’d do it naked, hanging upside down with a roman candle sparkling from their butt while singing Ave Maria.

Fear, true fear, cannot be decimated with logic

Me? Well. Each step I took downwards was, perhaps, the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Scarier than pitching my novels, though I had similarly sweaty palms. Scarier than going on a date at 50 years old, though in both cases, my heart pounded in my chest like it wanted to leap out and run away, have a beer, and watch other idiots do this.

When I reached the last step, the guide said, ok, on three.

 

Three.

My sphincter clenched so hard that I nearly created a black hole.

Two.

My mouth went completely dry which makes sense since all the liquid in my body had gone to make sure my palms were so wet that I couldn’t hold on to anything, which totally doesn’t make we wonder if we did evolve from monkeys who would surely need good dry palms to swing away from tigers or Green Peace or something.

One.

My life flashed before my eyes.

It was, not surprisingly, rather dull.

Go!

I went.

I didn’t scream. I didn’t wet myself. I didn’t even close my eyes. I got mad. Mad that I was so scared. Mad to use up all that fight or flight energy. Mad because I had to jump off a flipping tower and travel at the speed of a falling sack of bricks.

But being mad allowed me to actually enjoy the ride.

I did. All the way to the bottom.

But, as we gathered on the other tower, The-Oldest saying he found it boring, that he should have gone upside down and taken pictures, The-Youngest bouncing up and down with unbridled glee, wanting to do it again, can we, can we do it again, The Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World looked at me and I looked at her and we said, shit, never, ever, ever, again.

Because, despite us both surviving, there comes a point in your life where being terrified isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Fear, in the end, didn’t defeat us, didn’t kill us, but man did it make us appreciate a nice chair on a beach somewhere. Drink with an umbrella in hand.

Piano Man

A Delicate Little Flower

delicate flowerNow the last thing The-Oldest would want me comparing him to is a delicate flower, but that’s how I feel about his latest and most amazing endeavour. Learning to play the piano.

First of all, much to my horror, like most kids, the more you try to push him into something, the more he resists. As evidence, I point to jujitsu. To his credit, he stuck with it to the end of the session and tried his hardest while there, but he wanted to do it about as much as I would want to take dancing lessons (which, FYI, I’ll have to do for the wedding since I dance like a elephant with its feet in cement.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, pushing kids.

In my dream world before kids, I thought, hey, if you’re just encouraging enough, positive enough, made it seem like fun, kids would want to do it. Simply put, they’d want to do it cuz I said so.

Seems me saying it’s cool or fun does not, in any way, make it cool or fun.

Who knew?

pianoSo, when The-Oldest became interested in the piano, we had to tread carefully. Like keeping a delicate plant alive, we had to water it just enough to keep it alive and not too much so it would die and wither and exude a sulfurous stench.

We had to be interested, but not overly interested. We had to be excited, but not too excited (like new Avengers movie excited, not new Star Wars movie excited.) We had to be there to help him and not there to show him how to do it.

The last part would be the hardest to balance. Not that I play the piano in any way, shape or form. I would be better off simply banging my forehead on the keyboard for all the talent I have, but The-prettiest-girl-in-the-world has some skill and has done her best to guide him and show him proper fingering.

It’s not easy, especially since (if I continue with the plant metaphor), we have pretty much killed every plant in our house. So, yeah, we have to be REALLY careful here.

But so far he’s continued to be interested and he’s done remarkably well. Better than well.

His fingers are blazingly fast. He can pound out the first part of the moonlight sonata like a pro. He’s learning to play funeral dirges cuz, you know, he’s a teenager. He plays the cello suite #1 with feeling and rhythm.

And he seems to love learning to play!

He comes home from school, does his homework and then sits in front of the piano. Not in front of a TV. Not in front of a computer screen or his phone. In front of the piano.

How cool is that?

I can’t tell you how impressed I am at his commitment. At his skill. At his natural talent.

But now we have to find a way to get him lessons. Without them, he’ll never really be able to play. His fingering will be so off that he wouldn’t be able to use both hands. He won’t be able to progress farther in many of the concertos he wants to play.

I know he knows there’s a limit he can do without assistance. But it’s like me knowing I shouldn’t eat a whole bag of yummy caramilk chocolates – knowing is not everything. Knowing does not overcome fear or a deep love of chocolate.

So how do we shift him towards that? How do we add more fertilizer so he will continue to grow? How can we make him a part of this decision-making process? How do we do that without him hating the piano?

Hmmm.

To be continued.

In the meantime, Moonlight Sonata.