Count Yourself Down

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Back in college, I did a ropes course in the mountains in Colorado. The course wound its way through the forest, way up in the trees. It had ladders and single-rope lines and zip lines. I navigated the length of the course attached to a safety line on my harness.

The course ended at a wooden platform, again high up in the pines. Beyond the platform, a trapeze swing hung from a branch of the tree. A ropes-course dude on the platform unhooked my safety harness from the line I’d been attached to, and snapped me to another line. This new line ended in the hands of a second ropes-course dude on the ground.

I looked at the trapeze swing, and then at the ropes-course dude, my eyebrow raised.

“Jump,” he said.

Just how high up were we? I looked at the ropes-course dude down on the ground. He was a big guy…and he looked tiny. And the trapeze swing? It looked soooo far away.

“The longer you wait, the harder it is. Just jump.”

I felt fear turning my feet into lead, and I knew the ropes-course dude was right.

I silently counted myself down — three, two, one — and I jumped.

My wrists hit the bar of the swing. Gravity took me down until my hands clamped around. Got it.

What. A. Rush.

“Now let go,” the ropes-course dude yelled.

I knew if I didn’t he’d remind me: The longer you wait, the harder it is.

I let go. The second ropes-course dude acted as the brake as I descended. He caught the line and used his own weight to counter mine. The ride to the forest floor was smooth and before I knew it, I felt my feet back on the ground.

For a long time after that course, I felt invincible. But beyond that, I’d learned a valuable lesson. One that I need to remind myself of again and again.

The longer you wait, the harder it is.

So often, I get an idea — a goose bump idea, you know the kind? — and I daydream about it and my daydreaming turns into what-if thinking, and my what-if thinking turns into a kind of vertigo. Instead of seeing all the goodness of the idea, I start wondering how far away that trapeze swing is and how far up in the trees I am. My feet turn to lead.

The longer I wait, the harder it is. And then my good ideas turn into someday ideas. And someday is just another name for never.

What are your good ideas? What are you waiting for? The longer you wait, the harder it is.

Count yourself down.




And then jump.


2 thoughts on “Count Yourself Down

    Faith said:
    April 20, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Such a true sentiment. Things are often worse in ones own head than in reality. It is hard to take that leap but in my experience, the faster you jump the better off you are. Some of my best decisions were made in an instant without over thinking.
    Also, I am supremely jealous that you took a ropes course. I have often thought about doing that.
    Thanks for the great blogs and the fun short stories on your website!


      Amy K. Nichols said:
      April 22, 2010 at 8:49 am

      Hi Faith. 🙂 Did you read Blink? I haven’t, but I think that’s what M. Gladwell writes about. The power of making decisions in an instant.

      I think you’re right about things being worse in one’s head than in reality. Especially if you have an overactive imagination and, say, a fear of flying. *looks sideways*

      You should totally do a ropes course if you get a chance. Thank you for reading and for your comment!

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