I must tell you that I am not comfortable with heights. I usually end up with a turned stomach and a very humble feeling in my ‘‘derrière’’. Yet, when I was about 6 or 7 years old, I learned to move forward past this perceived danger of height with fortitude.
It was in my school gymnasium. We had to climb a wooden ladder fixed to the wall and jump down onto the thick mattress below. We were instructed to climb to the highest level we could stomach, and we were paired for the climb. I was paired with Marie-Josée, a girl who had no concept of danger.
As she joyfully climbed the ladder, I followed reluctantly to her right praying silently that she would stop at a low height and jump off, allowing me to do the same or at least climb one bar higher before jumping. When she reached the halfway point, my silent prayers intensified, ‘‘Please stop climbing Marie-Josée! You’re gonna kill us both!’’. Being of a competitive nature, I could not bear having her show more courage than I and shame me to defeat.
But Marie-Josée did not stop climbing, not until her head touched the high gymnasium ceiling. By this time, my classmates were looking up intensely to see if she would dare jump from this height. Meanwhile, I was just a bit lower than her, a few bars from the top. Marie-Josée turned around and looked down, suddenly realizing with fear in her eyes that she may have climbed too high for that crucial jump. She quickly descended to a more comfortable midway position and safely made her jump. All this time I am still perched at the top of the ladder, doubting, yet not wanting to concede my position now that I had made it this far. My classmates witnessing my dilemma started chanting my name, as to give me the courage to jump.
I was still weighing on the imminent danger with much fear in my entire being. Who should I listen to? The inner voice that was telling me to get down before I hurt myself, or the other part of me that was caught up in the excitement of conquering fear and making the courageous jump?
I jumped. Feeling my heart in my throat and the exhilaration of accomplishing something new that none of my classmates dared to attempt.
When I landed safely on the mattress below, I was received with a hero’s welcome. Every classmate including Marie-Josée was jumping with excitement, congratulating me for my courage or my craziness. This was the first time that I had ever felt like a conqueror. Yes, I had conquered my fear and faced danger with courage.
I did not know it then, but a seed of fortitude was planted in my soul.
What was your first courageous experience like, when you had to display fortitude?
Harry Félix is a multicultural marketing strategist and a business development consultant. He is the founder of Metro City Marketing. He has been actively propelling international, national and local businesses through market growth since 2012.
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