Proceed with caution

 Like most people, I do not remember beginning to walk, but Mom recounts how I did well – until I fell one time too many and decided not to try again for months.  We moved around according to where the military stationed Dad, and Mom was always there.  I was a happy child, soon blessed with a younger sister/playmate, and we knew they both loved us.  When I was about five years old Dad exited the service and they  returned to Indiana.   A few years later my parents divorced and I withdrew somewhat to the safety of my own thoughts.  With time I gained two more sisters, a brother, and a second mother.   I was a bit clumsy throughout my school years, at times ridiculed, and kept mostly to myself.   This is surely an over simplification,  but suffice to say I am just naturally wary.  Sometimes, like Indiana Jones, even when facing dangers on the fly, one should proceed with caution.

Flash forward, now married and raising two boys, I feel I’m finding my place in this world. I am enjoying a day with my family on the boardwalk at an amusement park for my annual company picnic,  left spare shoes in the car, and feel reluctant to make a quick exchange.  I am not concerned, and rather content to wear relaxing sandals that, if I bothered to give a passing thought, would consider to have a rugged appearance, great traction, and with velcro straps across and behind the ankle, secure enough for general use. These odd details all converge into one significant personal event when I find myself trailing my son halfway through a high ropes course.  It had looked so inviting from below, where Joan and James both stand watching and impatiently waiting for us to finish. 

What a blur! Being fitted with a harness, inserting the end of the safety strap into the over head rail, and pulling it along with me through the first few obstacles while staying just far enough behind Devin to let him enjoy a taste of independence – until I step on the next cable and feel it bend beneath my weight.  I retract my foot to the middle platform as the world comes into sharp focus, and mentally note how my feet moving ever so slightly in my sandals suddenly matters.  Granted, from an intellectual standpoint I am fully aware “you can’t fall”, and indeed soon hear staff try to coax a young man with those exact words. But neither do I want to risk literally sliding off course to dangle from my tether like a side of beef until dragged away. So I pause to collect my wits and pull my rigging to the side, allowing other people to pass. 

Time proceeds and I am unaware how long I stand there examining the situation like some Mensa puzzle.  I cannot remove the offending footwear or reverse direction without violating the rules of the park, or worse, lose face with my boy already ahead of me.  Which leaves me staring at the design of the two paths built between my platform and the next.  One option is the cable that wiggled beneath my weight.  A series of cords suspended in sequence across the gap offers hand holds but, short of swinging Tarzan style, I doubt the required hand over hand motion would do much to remedy the poor combination of slack in my sandals and the unexpected instability of the “tightrope”.  The other option is a beam, only a few inches wide, which appears more sturdy but void of any overhead support.  I might scuttle across, were it not tilted at an angle that would again call into question my choice of footwear.

 The point of this excursion was to enjoy an adventure with my son, and now it all seems a very frustrating impasse of my own shortcomings…  I picture my father, who looks great in a leather jacket and a fedora, and wonder what he might do.   Honestly I think he would have sense enough to stay on the ground or make clever use of some gadget. Next I imagine a bull whip, and remember sadly that is a skill I never picked up.  Anyway, this is no conundrum to ponder at leisure!  A line of people are bottling up behind me.  I know that an immediate, real world solution must exist, but I am somehow over looking it.

Then God smiles upon me with His grace.  Using the foolish things to confound the wise, He sends a child across in front of me.  She is barely tall enough to qualify for these obstacles, and in my eyes she looks like a preschooler.  She sweeps over the beam so fast I nearly miss the secret of how she manages differently than all the adults I have seen.  The tether everyone drags along the track with them is undoubtedly able to support a person’s weight in an emergency.  What I have not yet considered is the capacity to use it purposefully as a tool for crossing!  As the bulb goes off in my head I chuckle inside, thank the Lord for His merciful insights, and opt for crossing the beam. I grasp my tether with both hands the way that child displayed.  Safely supporting my weight in what should have been the most obvious fashion, I clutch all the reinforcement I need and easily slide myself along the upturned corner of the board with my feet.  I quickly reach the other side.  Keeping this new-found discovery in mind, I make short work of the remaining rope course and join my awaiting family at the bottom.  We look forward to these family outings and are familiar with the park, but this new addition will stick in my mind.

 I highly recommend the attraction, using the trick I learned, and  just tell everyone they should closely read the note on safe footwear:    ( http://indianabeach.com/pages/indianabeach_adventure_point  )

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