I am afraid of heights. What am I not afraid of, though, right?
Yesterday Nik Wallenda walked a tightrope between two skyscrapers in Chicago, IL. Just the mention of it gives me chills. Below is a photo from ABC News.
Twenty years ago, though, I overcame my fear.
I was crew on a sailboat on Lake Erie. We were in Erie, PA. It was summertime. They were having a celebration on the nearby waterfront. The festivities included fireworks.
Now, I love fireworks. There was one problem. The steaming light on the mast was blown out. We needed this light to be able to lawfully navigate and there was only myself and the captain aboard.
The light in reference was at the top of a mast that stood 45 feet above the deck of the boat. That is pretty high, for me.
As the morning turned to afternoon I thought more and more about letting the captain hoist me up in a bosun’s chair so that I could replace that light bulb. A bosun’s chair, by the way, is simply a board for your butt and ropes to go around your legs. It is attached to a halyard, the line that raises sails, and the halyard is pulled, pulling you up the mast.
I must have gotten in that chair a dozen times, chickening out each time. Finally I turned to liquid courage. I had a beer. That didn’t do it. I had another. Then I waited a bit. At last, I had a third and with that the liquid courage took hold and I allowed him to hoist me up.
Once I got up there, it was no big deal. I replaced the light bulb, we made sure it worked, and he lowered me back to the deck.
We sailed to the festivities and had a lovely time as the fireworks filled the night sky.
Would I do it again today? No. I am now landlocked and sail no more, and I no longer drink. But I am glad that I can recall the time that I faced my fear and, with the help of a little liquid courage, made it a night to remember instead of regret.