Many people watched a few weeks ago when Nik Wallenda walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Not long after that a man walked across the Beau Rivage, a casino on the coast here on a tightrope, as well. I went with my brother, my son and my nephew to watch the event. You don’t realize just how high up it really is until there is someone walking across it on a rope!
As we watched him I thought about how difficult it must be to keep so many things in balance all at once. I’ve talked a lot about focus this week, and in this case it truly does take an immense amount of focus. You are standing up higher than anyone around, out over the edge (one of the only people crazy enough to try this) and you have to keep looking forward while remembering what you need to do to keep yourself in check. You have to stay calm, make sure your steps are on track, change them accordingly to ensure the rope you are walking on doesn’t get too loose, and make sure not to look down.
When we are up high and walking across the rope looking down can be hard to avoid. It’s one of the biggest pitfalls we make. When we start looking at just how high up we are and how far we’ve come, it’s easy to get disoriented. Looking down and losing focus is confusing. We become inundated immediately with thoughts that take us off track. We stop paying attention to our walk, we stop paying attention to our goal, we aren’t sure anymore what our next step should be, and it’s all because we looked down.
There are lots of people down there waiting on us to fall. There are lots of reasons that we might actually fall. But we are just as capable of standing on the wire and walking our way across. The choice in the matter is ours. Do we give in and look down? Do we go ahead and give up and take the easy way? It’s a whole lot faster getting to the ground that way, but the ground isn’t really where we want to be. And falling almost always results in injury. It may be fast, and there may be lots of people at the bottom who will be happy we’ve joined them, but is it really worth it? Fighting the urge to look down is hard. We have to know the steps we are taking. And remember that the hard road, (or the tight rope) is the only way to get there. So why not take the time to stay in check while walking on the wire.