I’ve had a fear of heights ever since I can remember. That queasy feeling of vertigo would grip me even when I was barely off the ground. It didn’t stop me from climbing the Eiffel Tower, or enjoying the incredible views in the temples surrounding Angkor Wat. For those that know me will know that doing the Redwoods Treewalk is no mean feat!
My friend and I have only recently reconnected - first meeting through musical theatre over ten years ago. He moved back into the area last year, and we’ve been slowly catching up since. Sam is one of the few people in my life that knew me before I got married. With him I can be unfiltered and my true self.
We began our adventure with food, stopping for dinner at Nandos. It was relatively quiet for a Saturday evening and we didn’t have to wait long for our food. We were missing another fellow foodie though, John. Due to his jetlag was still awake at 2am, so naturally we bombarded him with food photos. Sam and John had spent a month exploring the South Island together, and John only flew back to America earlier this week. They’re one of the few couples I don’t mind third wheeling with.
Sam didn’t know about my fear of heights until we were midway through crossing the first platform. He was behind me and I could feel that familiar jelly sensation in my legs. Not wanting to alarm him, I continued to move forward but had slowed down enough for him to notice. The rocking motion of his footsteps and narrowness of the platform quickened my breath. Once we reached the safety of the first viewing platform, I asked him to take the lead. As the light continued to fade, it became easier to walk each bridge and I began to relax.
You may be wondering why we didn’t do the walk in daylight. The view would certainly be far reaching and breathtaking, however we would have missed out on the outdoor lanterns and forest lighting by award winning designer David Trubridge. The bespoke lanterns were up to 2.5 metres tall. My favourite was the one wrapped around one of the giant trunks.
Only having our phones, we couldn’t capture the beauty of the lanterns in the low lighting. I remember being in the middle of a platform, and we came to a clearing in the forest - I found myself looking up at the Milky Way. All the noise in my head quietened and the night air was still. In the darkness, I smiled. Even if I was high above the forest floor, I never felt more grounded.
I have decided that every month I want to do something that takes me out of my comfort zone. Maybe, like the Treewalk, it challenges long held beliefs of my limitations and fears, or it can be as simple as meeting new people outside my usual social circle. As I write the last chapters of the book, I asked myself how I want my life to change. Change happens through action, and if it’s a small step forward every month, then I’m sure it can lead to a bigger leap in the future.
For my birthday I want to go back to Singapore and maybe even write my last chapter there. My friend Anita is heading there for hers, and it’s only three days before mine. All I know is that I want to celebrate my birthday in a pretty dress, dance and laugh the night away. Or maybe camp out and wake up to a beautiful sunrise. I’ll just wing it.
I’ve spent a lot of the past year in retrospective reflection, which has helped me to survive. Maybe even thrive. It allowed me the permission to embrace a level of vulnerability that I could handle - which has been a focus for my writing. I learned to ask for help. To listen to motherly advice. I’m also learning that it’s not selfish to fill your own cup. In fact, it’s a necessity.
Resilience comes not from an easy journey, but from the stumbling blocks. In the words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”