The Guiding Wind My vision was blurry, smudging my surroundings into a blob of color. Something was slamming into the wall of my chest as if it was trying to break free. I put my hand over my heart and felt each strong pulsation quicken. I knew I had to concentrate and use all of my will power to take another step forward. I had to keep telling myself not to look down, but how? How could I not look down if I needed to see where to put my foot? Tension started to build in my muscles making every movement more constricting. My breathing quickened to fill the emptiness in my lungs.
Calm down Claire! You can’t do this if you keep freaking out! I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. The scent of salt filled my nose and I could hear waves crashing against the shore. My heart rate fell and my breathing began to slow. I opened my eyes only to feel a sharp stinging them. I rubbed them trying to find some relief. Sweat had consumed my face and found its way into the delicate tissues of my eyes. It was then that I realized the scent of the fresh sea air was actually coming from me. Almost every human is afraid of something.
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When these creepy clowns, scary piders, or slithering snakes cross our path, our bodies react to signal to us that these are potential dangers. Our fight-or-flight response kicks in and increases our heart rate to promote blood flow to our muscles. Adrenaline pumps into our system to boost our strength, enabling us to either confront or flee the hazard. Breath quickens, increasing air intake to deliver more oxygen to the muscles. Functions of the digestive and immune systems stop, allowing the body to focus all its energy against the imminent danger. During this process, it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on anything but this fear.
The body will do everything it can to prepare itself to fght or to run, but in the end only the individual can choose what to do. Ever since I was a little girl I loved to climb trees. My brother and I would climb trees all through the year. We had a beautiful forest behind our house and the perfect climbing tree located smack dab in the middle of our backyard. I spent many summers in that tree until one fateful day. It was a hot summer day; I was reading The Magic Treehouse book, Dinosaurs Before Dawn. As the day went on I grew thirsty and decided I did not want to bother my mom to get me a drink.
I began my ecent down the tree carefully finding every notch to place my foot on. As I climbed down the eight-foot high branch my foot slipped. Smack. I hit the ground hard. I opened my eyes and felt the soft grass brush against my face. Pain then flowed to every inch of my body. I tried to breathe to cry for help but no air would fill my empty lungs. I began frantically thinking of every possible reason why this was happening to a seven-year-old. Every second that passed by felt like hours. Finally, my lungs opened up and I screamed. “MOMMY! ” I immediately saw my mom fly through the door and rush to my side. What happened? her soft voice immediately soothed me “l fell from the tree and I couldn’t breathe. ” “Does anything hurt? ” I put my hand behind me and pushed myself up. A slight pain throbbed on my back. examined my back. “Well, it doesn’t look like anything serious happened but you may wake up with a few bruises tomorrow. ” She warned. “That’s it? ” I questioned. miep. I think you got the wind knocked out of you when you fell but you were lucky that you fell on the grass and not on a root. ” She was right; I looked around the tree. There were several large roots protruding from the ground.
I was amazed that I had ot landed on one. Days went by, the bruises came and went, and my fear of climbing the tree only grew. Ever since that day, I have hated being high off the ground. It was not a serious fear that interrupted my day-to-day life, but only stopped me when we went on family vacations to Mount Rushmore, Cedar Pointe, and to the Grand Canyon. I found it especially hard to go on roller coasters. The ride up always made me nauseous and tense. I was beginning to grow annoyed with my fear knowing that I couldn’t enjoy everything my family enjoyed.
I wanted to do something about it but I did not know how. Years went by until I finally decided to take a stand at summer camp. The high ropes course is the most intimidating structure at Springhill. This would be the only way I could conquer my exasperating fear. I strapped myself into my gear and started the climb with my group. At first it was not that bad until I got to the top of the ladder. The world around me began to spin. I did not know if I could go any further. The only thing that enabled me to move was the support of my friends. I could not think. It felt as if my body had a mind of its own.
I watched myself walk across thin wires and climb another ladder. It seemed so easy for me until I reached the top of the ladder. I refused to take another step. What was lying in front of me scared me more than any spider or any other frightening thing that I have experienced in my life. The thin wires I had walked across before were now crisscrossed. There was no way I would walk across it. My body froze as I thought of every mistake that would lead to me falling off the wire. I couldn’t do it. There was no way. I heard a faint whisper in my ear. I heard it again and tried to focus on the source.
Then I realized it was someone calling my name. “Claire, are you okay? My friend’s concern reflected in her voice. “Huh? ” I struggled to refocus, “Oh… yeah… ummm… l-l don’t think I can do this. ” “Claire, look around you. How else are you going to get down? ” She had a point. The only way I could get down is if I kept going to the end. I had to face my fear. I nodded to her in agreement slowly convincing my self to take a step on the wire. I looked down and fear quickly engulfed my body. Sweat trickled down my face into my eyes. My muscles tensed as I struggled to find the strength to push on.
As we got closer to the end my I could feel heart was racing like thoroughbred on a racetrack. My vision started to blur. I couldn’t keep control… NO! Claire you can do this! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’re almost there. I refused to give in to my bodys response; I decided to fight. I could not run away anymore. I gave it every thing I had. Just one more step. The wind blew against my back. I began to lose my balance. This is it. This is where I fall. Then I realized something. The wind was not trying to push me off, instead it was guiding me like a hand, encouraging me to keep moving forward.
I felt calm for once. My pace gradually hastened and soon enough I was gliding across the wire. Bam. I looked down and saw myself standing on a wooden platform. Wait! This was THE wooden flopping around like a fish, Jumping and dancing. I had conquered my fear for the first time. In the end, it was only a small step toward eliminating my fear, but it left me with the confidence I needed to push myself when life seemed impossible. This anxiety has slowly disappeared into my past leaving a trail of precious memories that I use as motivation to experience new thrills. The next challenge: skydiving.