Opportunity knocked. I have a thing about Opportunity; when she knocks I answer and at least listen to the proposition, and so I stood at the bottom of a 300 foot high observation tower in the Amazon Rainforest with the intent to climb it. If the top is reached, the observer would be high above the canopy and witness, under the right circumstances, Toucans, monkeys and other ‘high society’ animals of the forest. Even though high places are not on my list of favorite things, I didn’t want to miss out on what might be seen from such a lofty perch. This required several minutes of self-talk; a pregame warmup if you will.
How to get up there was the question. ‘One step at a time’ was not going to suffice, so I delved into my childhood where nothing was off limits and did what I used to do then – I chose an animal to become. With the tower looming, I knew it had to be someone who didn’t mind heights and, having just seen monkeys the day before, I decided to ‘play monkey’.
It is amazing what we can accomplish if we choose not to be afraid. Consider how many times we neglect to answer Opportunity because we have fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of how others might see it or what they might think. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of heights…
Did I mention it was a very windy day? It was. The metal steps made a loud clanking with each foot I placed on the tread and so too did the creaking of the heavy wire cables as the tower fought against the wind, but I told myself I was a monkey and monkeys don’t care about wind or creaking or clanking. So I went up flight after flight and soon I was not concern about the aforementioned sound effects and just enjoyed the feel of the wind in my face until I reached about 160 feet, the top of the canopy. The canopy was dense and as I looked out over the condensed treetops, I kept thinking about being a monkey and, with 140 feet to go, realized from what I could see, the canopy looked exactly like the ground with scrub brush. Since I had already climbed the 150 feet, I knew I could continue because, in my ‘monkey suit’ I had already climbed 150 feet.
Everything was amazing at the top! I could see for miles, see the Amazon River with a few fishermen making their way to hot spots known only to them, the jungle beneath me meet shrouded in a bit of ground fog - but sadly I could not find mister Toucan. I did watch a King Vulture make lazy circles overhead for a good many minutes. (A really colorful and sizeable bird that I had never seen before.)
Then, from below, I hear the telltale sound of clanking. Another team was following us behind. No problem. I am not even thinking about being up high, I’m just enjoying the view – until they arrive and one of them says, ‘I wonder how many people can be up here safely?’
That one question was my demise. Slowly I started to wonder the same. Just how many people could be up here…on a windy day? And just what were the odds of surviving a crash and burn? Wouldn’t we fall over that way and end up speared on those trees? Moment by moment I became concerned, then afraid and then finally – I had to go back down (along with the dufus who posed the question).
Moral of the story?
Don’t let a dufus talk you out of your monkey suit if you’re not afraid. And don’t listen to those who are.