Monday, July 1, 2013

A new vantage point

My family had a really good time in Chicago last week. It was fun to get away from our usual routines of life and spend time together. I know I can still remember many of the vacations I took with my family as a kid so I hope my children will reflect on these trips with fondness in the years to come.

One of the activities we had told the kids about was going to the Skydeck. For those who do not know, this is a glass box which is extended roughly four feet out of the Sears Tower ... er, the Wilson Tower ... and is located on the 103rd Floor. That's 1,353 feet in the air!

Did I mention this is OUTSIDE the building!!?

You can look straight down to the ground!

All the way below you ... down there ... 103 Stories! Yeah, you're really frickin' high!

Sorry, my personal phobias of splatting on the ground are getting to me again. I handle ladders and getting on my roof just fine; it's not the height that bothers me. It's the thought of splatting on the ground that bothers me.

Anyway, we told the kids about going to the Skydeck and somewhere along the line I mentioned that I would have to overcome my own fear of taking that first step into the glass box. From there, I was sure I would have no problem. But that first step? Yeah, that was going to take will power.

The kids thought this was great. Seeing their father afraid, even a bit, was funny. Can you believe that?

So after an express ride to the Skydeck level and looking out at the Chicago skyline, we arrived at the actual glass boxes. Thankfully there was a line of people waiting to take their turn.

When my family was about five feet from the box, I felt my stomach flip. "You have to do this!" I thought to myself. I couldn't let the kids see me be afraid, even if they were kidding me about it. Laughing about being afraid is one thing, actually showing them I am afraid should be reserved for the truly scary things in life. "This isn't one of them," I told myself. But my palms were sweaty and I really didn't want to go any closer.

But our turn came and I was first in line. So I took that step without too much hesitation.
My shoes at 1,300 ft. above the street.

The glass held! I didn't fall!

And looking around me was beautiful.

The camera will not capture the feeling. It can't capture how looking around -- over your head, beneath your feet, and to your side -- is awe inspiring.

Then it hit me -- I wasn't afraid. In fact, I really hadn't ever been afraid to be in this spot out here in the glass box. It wasn't the end result I was afraid of, but the transition to get there.

In short, I was afraid to take the first step.

How many times in our lives are we afraid to take that first step or to make that initial transition to something new?

I realized I am not usually afraid of the transitions at the office, in the community groups I am involved in, nor in many other areas of my life. But I was afraid of this one. So I learned something this past week: having a reason which is larger than yourself is important when you're afraid to take that initial step.

In my case, this was being able to show my kids that you can overcome a fear of heights; that you can push through this to enjoy the moment.

And perhaps that is the greatest part about being 103 stories in the air -- from that vantage point, most of the other stuff looks pretty small.


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