A Life-line.

There are many analogies in life which set deep rooted meaning into the core of my being. Flying, running, biking, winning, helping others, studying, and zip lining happen to be the most pertinent on my mind at this time in my life.

While flying and zip lining are nearly synonymous, there are a few discrepancies which should be agreed upon before allowing them to be in the same sentence as each other. Perhaps the most important logical sense to be placed on these differences has to do with gravity, hardware, and attachment. The places for flying are generally in dreams and airplanes. But the places for zip lining have grown dramatically in recent years. And the technology for enhancing this strange sport have also become increasingly sophisticated.

My job consists of attaching people to a harness with two simple carabiners, opening a gate, and telling them to “zip away”. Everything that happens after that are no longer within my power or control. Gravity takes over, along with the overly engineered zip line, designed by architects and engineers whose work is worth the million dollar loans which invested into this project and the company which keeps it running.

Yes, I entertain and teach people, but ultimately it is in their hands once I let go. They overcome fears and barriers within themselves as they simply “let go” and allow their feet to come off the platform, going from stationary suspension to rolling, gliding, and hovering observers of a rainforest canopy, a treacherous canyon, and sweeping views of ocean perspectives with the islands of Lanai and Molokai deep in the distance. I am more than a cog in the wheel, I am more than a pulley in the circuit. Yet I feel no desire to project this ego onto any one person, because each has a realization unto themselves of the serious nature and deep reverence which exists here.

Sometimes something happens, out of the ordinary, which captivates the crew members, astonishes the person guiding, and forever impacts the person experiencing it. While this may not be called a mistake, mishap, or even mistrial, it appears to have a similar feeling. The reality of our ropes and trolleys hovering high above the rainforest of Maui can come into serious check by no fault of our own; the only thing separating us from certain death being a steel cable, a metal trolley, nylon straps, and a couple of clips on a piece of fabric harness. This makes no notion upon the conscious mind until the gravity of the situation presents itself.

One of these situations came to my life today while I was going through guide training. We sent a young “manu” down the line, in a Kona Wind, blowing up the line slowing down the speed of the young man. He didn’t arrive to his final destination at the end of the line, which would have safely been over a platform with another guide waiting to receive him. Instead, he came to a gradual stop a few meters out before this platform. The winds even began blowing him in reverse. The end result was our strong receiving guide getting on a ladder and attaching himself to the line through the same style of equipment and taking the time to go out to get young manu.

We went through the rest of the tour with great care, ensuring to send each person with extra “aloha” meaning a push down the line. This went well, with each person arriving swiftly to the receiving platform with no qualms. But as it became my turn to zip something like the young manu repeated itself with me. I had successfully attached all of my belongings and body to the trolley and line, in order to begin gliding side by side with my trainer, but as soon as I was a little past the half way mark I realized I was not going fast enough. Within a few meters of arriving safely to the platform I came to a complete stop and even began rolling back. This would make it harder for the receiving guide to come out to get me, so I tried my best to hang upside down in the harness and stop myself with my feet, pushing my shoes up and over the line, like a monkey wrapping itself around a vine. This took a lot of my upper body strength and calf strength to keep my body from falling, which began to feel more like a Mission Impossible movie than I would have hoped to be in. And the receiving guide had to ensure he was properly hooked in with ropes to begin working his way out to help me. So eventually I had to succumb to gravity and let go of my feet on the line, only to come sitting back into my harness, falling into the lowest point of gravity on the line as my trolley rolled to a stop. It was quite a ways out from the receiving platform. Luckily my friend and coworker was built differently than me and had the upper body strength to bring himself out to me, and then have me grab onto his leg as he pulled us both back in.

Looking down and around at the precarious environment during times like this have an odd feeling to them. Being on the clock in a life and death situation gives the mind a new stretch into what life really means. The entire idea behind zip lining is to seek thrills, and with each tour we embrace this. However mistakes and mishaps are an extra layer that appear in this reality which can become bruises in an apple or simply add thickness to the bark, depe


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