“The only use of an obstacle is to be overcome. All that an obstacle does with brave men is, not to frighten them, but to challenge them.” – Woodrow Wilson
Here’s the story of how this Dadlete overcame an obstacle – or a whole course of them.
I like comfort. I like predictability. I disdain change. I loathe the unknown. I hate feeling weak.
There was a time when I welcomed challenged. I sought it out. I want to lift more, run faster, throw further. Pushing my limits enabled me to accept these challenges – as an athlete.
Honestly, since I have hit parenthood, that spirit has dwindled. I find comfort in routine (which sometimes means the couch and Netflix) and fear the challenges I once sought.
My wife is built a little different – which is why I believe we are a good match. It’s funny how in Woodrow Wilson’s quote he mentions brave men, but there are many women I know that fit that bill – including my wife.
Not long ago, we decided to have a weekend date. I was hoping for a movie and dinner. Maybe even a trip to the store with the bullseye on it.
Instead, my wife decided that she wanted to try a ropes course. Yep, a ropes course. Keep in mind that when we met (2 decades ago), one of the first activities we did together was a ropes course. It was a part of the residence life training in which we were both involved.
But that was 20 years ago.
Back then I was younger, eager, and, admittedly, trying to impress a girl.
I guess technically, 20 years later, I was still trying to impress a woman, but I would be lying if I said that I was thrilled to spend over an hour climbing ropes, trees, and, not least of all, risking my life.
Granted, I didn’t read any of the online materials, or look at the pictures, or watch any of the videos because – how hard could a ropes course be?
It was THE thing that challenged me more this year than any other adventure on which I have been a part.
The idea of slipping and falling to my death in the woods tormented me as they trained us on how to successfully navigate the different aspects of the course. (The course really isn’t that dangerous if you follow the training and rules. There was a significantly older couple that followed us and completed the course. But in MY head? It was a nightmare.)
This involved climbing up ladders, walking ropes, climbing up rope walls, and maintaining my balance.
Did I mention that I have a healthy fear of heights? And falling from heights?
Being the gentleman that I am, I allowed my wife to go first. She navigated the course well. I watched in admiration and awe as she walked across “floating” squares. In the back of my head, I wondered what film would flash in front of my eyes as I fell and smashed myself on the ground.
When she had crossed the first part of the course, she latched herself onto the tree (as we had been trained) and turned and waited for me.
This was my chance to impress the girl.
Instead I froze.
The truth is my fear was palpable. I know she saw it. I know I felt it. And it nearly crippled me. I just stood and stared like a kid at the bottom of an escalator for the first time. I had no confidence that I could cross. I felt myself breathing heavily. Not hyperventilating, but definitely not a comfortable rhythm of breathing.
Our guide was watching. I wanted to quit. I didn’t want to disappoint my wife, but I was certain that I couldn’t do it. I was convinced that I was done before I even started.
And then I took the first step.
If this were an action movie, I would tell you that I found the strength and grace to cross the path and finished with ease. The truth was it was ugly. And when I made it across, I hugged that tree like a lost child.
The rest of the course was like that – it was a constant struggle. My wife was amazing and took the lead. I managed to finish.
There were several parts where I thought for sure that I was going to have to blow the safety whistle and have someone rescue me, but I made it.
Walking back to the car, I was thankful for the challenge. For the opportunity to face a fear and overcome it.
This Dadlete adventure is the one that I will remember for some time. If you want to learn about yourself (not just your strengths, but your flaws and insecurities), then challenging yourself (obviously in safe and supervised ways – not reckless ones) is one way to hold that mirror up to your soul.
For this adventure, I wore the Russell Athletic Performance Fleece, the FreshForce underwear, and a pair of Russell Athletic performance shorts with pockets. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to bring the fanny pack with me as it would have interfered with the harness that kept me from falling.
If you are looking for some gear for your next adventure, be sure to check out Russell Athletic online (or at your local Walmart)!
Check my Dadlete landing page for the full collection as they occur. Also, be sure to check my Instagram page (including my Instagram Stories) as I post mini updates there as well. And if you want to see other Dadletes and their adventures, check out the hashtag #Dadlete on Twitter and Instagram!