Do you remember your first experience of a major fear of falling? I do. After High School I was hired by the State of Missouri Highway Department as an inspector and it gave me more money than I could have dreamed. It also, gave me many experiences that were near being nightmares.
A bridge was being built along a large flowing river in Northern Missouri and I was asked to go out and meet the crew, I think it was a setup. When I arrived they asked about inspecting the middle portion of the bridge. “You’re not afraid – are you?”
The bridge beams were in place but just a little wider than the width of my foot, maybe a mere six inches. No flooring, screen or Rebar was in place yet for the concrete to be poured on top, just six-inch wide beams. It was Spring time and the river was flowing aggressively, capturing tree limbs and debris in its rapid flow. They advised, “The trick is – don’t look down.” They made it look easy. Several of them walking back and forth across the beams laughing and talking along the way.
I took my first step, I was bound to not look down, then a second step. I talked myself into it and I quickly made my way across the beam to the middle of the bridge, Then it happened; I looked down. Fear struck my chest and heavy breathing became the norm. I wanted to cry, “Dear God, please help me!” So, I did – on the inside.
I knew I must continue to make my way across – I continued slowly…I mean, SLOWLY. Sweating on a cool spring morning is not difficult when fear is rising up in your chest. My mind was racing, “This is the craziest thing you have ever done.” No, not craziest – stupidest. I finally made it to the other side among the cheers of the other workers.
I quickly learned a lesson – there are others more experienced who have become accustomed to walking in dangerous places but if you wait until you have the confidence and faith to do it – then, you will never muster up the courage to do it. There are times when you learn as you go along. You were trained for it. Maybe, you didn’t even do it like the more experienced but you can do it. Sure, a fear of falling is natural but the risk of trying is what brings the greatest experiences.
I haven’t been on the beam of a bridge since and I don’t plan to.
You can learn more about the Fear of Falling when my newest book Highpoints comes out later this year.
COMMENT: How do you overcome fear?
Copyright By Jim Laudell. Permission must be obtained from the author to reporduce or copy.