Truth be told, after my first day of wing walking, I was tired. It’s a challenging physical workout moving around up there in the wind, and the acrobatic maneuvers can generate up to 3-4 G-forces which means just holding your head upright takes a lot of muscle.
Plus, I’d been cold all day during training, not being used to the 50-degree damp chill of coastal weather, so felt a bit drained just from shivering.
That night, I actually questioned whether or not to return for a second day of wing walking. I’d had a magnificent day, I’d walked on the wing as I’d wanted to, and I didn’t have anything to prove. Perhaps a rest day of writing and relaxing would better serve? I wondered…
And yet, for years I’d had this dream of hanging upside down from the wing, just like the woman who inspired me to get on the wing in the first place.
Could I really do it? Would it be possible, logistically? Would the pilot let me? Did I even have the core strength? What if I wasn’t ready? What if I couldn’t handle it? What if, after all this, I just wasn’t “enough?”
My self-doubt showed up in the form of rational justifications why taking a “rest day” would be more reasonable. Come back next year. Just be satisfied with what I’d already experienced, and call it a “win.”
As I walked up the steps to the balcony of the AirBnb room where I was staying, the motion sensor lights came on and revealed an owl — sitting on the step, just three feet in front of me.
Owl wisdom is all about seeing through the darkness, going beyond illusion to see the magic, to perceive what appears to be hidden. Immediately I knew to stay in the mystery and not draw any conclusions about anything — just let my deeper truth emerge.
I slept soundly and deeply, and was surprised to find that I awakened early, feeling sublimely refreshed, energized, and clear.
“I’m doing it,” I smiled, deep in the knowing that one way or another, the day would unfold very naturally to create the experience of hanging upside down from the wing.
The knowingness created a deep sense of calm all day, as I went through the motions of practicing, getting the logistics sorted out, and preparing for this new endeavor.
By the time I got in the air for my second flight, I felt as calm and assured as if I were simply going out for a cup of tea with a friend. It felt as though I were born to do this, and it was simply finally my time to show up for my life. This was my Zen meditation, and I was coming home.
I could have flown around like this all day — hanging upside down, holding the strut with my legs, soaring through the sky beneath the wing — but eventually the blood started rushing to my head and I deemed it wise to sit up again.
As I reflected on my process, I thought of my friends who just bicycled from the southern tip of South America up to Alaska, and the wisdom they shared: “If you are feeling like “I’m not having fun, why am I doing this?” it means you either need to eat or you need to rest.”
There’s definitely a psychological impact of physical depletion, when being cold, tired, and hungry creates a state in which thoughts of doubt , hesitation, and pause feel very justified and believable.
But there’s also the paradoxical way in which our ego puts up barriers on our way to doing the things that REALLY matter to us. The closer we get to living our authentic truth — expressing and experiencing the things that are most important to us — the more resistance can come up.
It’s the same whether it’s hanging from the wing of an airplane in flight, or opening up to an intimate love partnership, or making a career change into something deeply meaningful, or writing your book, starting your business, or sharing your art.
Take care of your body’s needs (eat! sleep! get warm! create some downtime!) and then let the muddy waters of your mind settle. Beneath the distortions of self-doubt or narratives that seem perfectly justified, lies your deeper truth–whatever that is for you.
Let yourself go to the “zero point” of stillness, rest, and replenishment, and THEN take action from the deeper knowing of who you really are.
If you’re going after something that REALLY matters to you, fear is your lighthouse, showing you exactly which way to come. Doubt is your ally, helping you clarify what’s really important to you. Stories are the illusory blanket of protection, trying to keep you safe by justifying why it’s best to stay within the realm of the familiar.
Look deeper. Rest up. And then go beyond.