Monday, January 3, 2011

YogaSlackers HighLine Hijinks

Paul Cassedy

Sam here,
Sam Hanging out
First a big Thanks To Scott Turpin for creating this opportunity for growth and exploration(it was his idea to bolt the line)

I usually feel quite at home sitting on the edge of a rock 200+ feet up and I also feel quite solid standing on a 1” piece of webbing floating above the ground, but my hands are beginning to sweat just typing out this next adventure.  By no means is this my first experience with HighLining (slacklining higher up then the line is long).  I have been on at least 5 others, the most notable one was inside and eight stories up click here.  I am not sure why I push myself to these limits.  Maybe I am trying to prove something or maybe I am trying to fit in with my peers or maybe I need to scare the crap out of myself to feel alive…maybe it is a complex combination of these and other reasons.  Maybe facing fear is what living is all about?

I get this question all the time!
Am I an adrenaline junkie?
Sam Adrenaline Junkie

I don’t think so. If anything I would fall closer to the control freak category.  After  the last 3 days of highlining I am very aware of my fears of death and injury.  I have done everything in my power to control my bodies reactions to this unfamiliar situation.  After spending an entire day too scared to even think about standing up. There was no way I was going to huck myself on to the line just to feel a rush of adrenaline.  I feel like I am always searching for my edge and when I find it, it takes tremendous will and amazing friends to push me into the unknown.

Look for the mounted head
Paul and I sit in a taco shop in Tucson, AZ surrounded by mounted baby cow’s heads, pictures of Mexican folk heroes and other random cultural artifacts.  to round out the scene there is an overweight Mexican man watching Telenovelias talking on the phone.  As usual I sat quietly wondering why it was so difficult to put my thoughts into words.  Fortunately Paul is good at lightening up deep thoughts without losing the essence of the issue. Soon a discussion breaks out about the good and bad decisions we have made and how they have affected our lives and others.  We are constantly told how inspiring we are and how much people enjoy being around our energy and that we have it “ALL” figured out!  The FACT is that after two days of hanging out at the HighLine I was barely able to confront my fear, let alone overcome it.  This left me questioning all the answers everyone thinks we have, as well as the answers I thought I had.  I will spare you the hour of depressive contemplation that followed.  In the end we knew we had to head back up to the line to face the unknown.

Scared Face
Paul pulled his van into the Windy Point parking lot.  After tending to our post coffee bathroom visit, I found myself balancing on the guard rail envisioning the familiar aspects of a low slackline while trying to block out the potential consequences and exposure of the highline that made this experience different.  I was getting excited; I was still stoked from climbing hard and sending a Longline the day before.  As for Paul he was taking a more Zen like approach.  We made our way down the steep trail to the line.  Crawling under a pine tree and making a small jump, we found ourselves on a rock platform overlooking Tucson and looking directly at fear.

I checked Pauls knot and the anchor.  I turned the camera on as Pauls scooted 8 feet out on the line to avoid smashing into the wall below if he leashed out.  Paul centered himself, drew in a deep breath and promptly leapt off the line in a crazy display of trust.  It was in that instant that I realized that I could not block out reality and if I wanted to make it across the line I would have to accept the consequences and embrace the exposure.

My 10th attempt…Sitting on a 1”wide 58ft strand of webbing floating over 200 feet off the ground I felt uncontrollable panic consume my mind and then my body, the line shook violently, terrified I heard Paul utter the magic word BREATHE. The thing about the highline was it’s amazing ability to extrapolate perspective and focus from a scattered mind.  When Breath, Vision and Stillness aligned the line stilled, the background colors melted into fuzzy grayness and a single goal appeared.  As I stood up the world rushed back in again the line shook I drew in a deep breath the shaking subsided to swaying.  Keeping the faith in my abilities, trust in my friends who rigged the line and the awareness in my breath was all it took…Paul sent the line on his next attempt as well :)

End of a Great Day

We hope this helps you live up to the challenges in your life!

Sam, Paul and the YogaSlackers 

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