First steps

The other day I parked up to take my dogs over the viaduct a few miles up the road. I’ve walked it a few times, as I put my handbrake and looked across I noted there wasn’t anyone else on there. A few canal boats bobbed quietly along the left hand side but there was no sign of any humans which was unusual for this normally popular beauty spot. The dogs excitedly barked as I park up and jump over the drivers side as I open the door on to the green verge beside the canal. It’s a bright sunny day, a picture postcard type of day where the green of the canal boat gleams against the sparkle of the blue sky reflecting in the water. We cross over the small lock to the other side, unfortunately the canal boat that sells coffee isn’t open today so we head on towards the viaduct crossing. The dogs spot some innocent ducks and make a pathetic run towards them knowing that they won’t get anywhere near them and the ducks are unperturbed, confident in their safe surroundings.

I look at the viaduct outstretched ahead. The 126ft high viaduct. First I walk past the four canal boats while trying not to peer in, I am so intrigued by the long wooden vessel that house wood burners, flat screen TVs, flowers and kitsch curtains. It’s eerily quiet and I wonder for a moment if I have actually come out earlier than I thought due to the recent change in clocks, but I haven’t. I get closer to the viaduct and as I approach I began to feel a little uneasy, nervous.

 

I’m a bit perplexed by this, although I know many many people who won’t walk over it due to the height, I haven’t ever been one of those people. I have been the encourager. I have been the one saying… oo look at the other side where there’s no barrier. I’ve been the one happy to step to the narrow edge for a pram to get past. I’ve been the one to bravely let my dogs run over off the lead, trusting them.

 

Now as I take my first steps where it still feels relatively safe, I start to feel, yes, it definitely is nerves. I ponder this as I look over the metal railings towards the stunning golden and green view and I realise why I am feeling nervous.   I have never walked over here on my own. What’s the difference in walking here on my own and walking over here with someone else? Turns out, quite a lot.

 

Not one to give up I tell myself to look ahead and remind myself how long this viaduct has stood the test of time, there are no boats going across the water and no people walking on the path, I begin the narrow walk telling myself I am simply walking on a path!!! I’m a quarter the way over and I look to my right, the view is absolutely breathtaking particularly on such a lovely day, I spot sheep that look like small cushions of snow and hedges that appear unreal, like lego.

 

I’m beginning to get so far that there’s little point now in considering not to walk the whole thing so I carry on. Slightly disconcerting is the fact that every twenty steps or so there’s a grid and every time the dogs get to the grid they stop and consider what to do, they then decide to jump over every grid and I can’t help but wonder that they know something I don’t – so I of course also avoid contact with the grid.

 

As I get to the half way point I notice that my legs feel different, my legs have become jelly-like and I am now in no doubt that I have become scared and on top of that a slight bit of vertigo has set in. I am half way over so I can’t go back and at this point I don’t much feel like going forward, I do know though if I carry on going forward I am also going to have to come back across unless I want to walk fives miles out of my way. I’m totally bewildered that I have found walking across (did I say it is 126FT up in the air!!!) the aqueduct such a different experience because I’ve done it on my own. Continuing to look forward and avoiding the aforementioned grids I breathe a sigh of relief as I’m two thirds over and the distance between myself and the ground becomes shorter and my breathing begins to normalise.  As I feel the safety of land without the threat of imminent death… I ponder this strange change that happened inside my mind and the physical changes that took place in my body – simply because I did something alone.

 

The fact we can get such strength and confidence just from being with someone else was quite a revelation to my independent mind however I also gave myself a virtual round of applause that I did not shy away from it, despite feeling scared and worried and wanting to run back, I didn’t. Through the week it made me consider how we normally do things with others and how ‘brave’ it can feel to go it alone. It’s great to be in a couple, be with friends and family but it’s also really important that we can face and manage challenges by ourself too – to live the life we want.

 

Happy Sunday XX

grid

 

 

 

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