Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Only Way to Soar

It started in the trees, soaring for the first time scared on a day in September just after Ethan was diagnosed.

It continued in New York, at Lake George, celebrating our anniversary just as we are today, at a ropes adventure course, having a blast although neither Dan nor I could ever be called particularly athletic.

It was fine-tuned, this crazy idea, over the next four years. What started as a fun activity to do together turned into, "What if we opened one of these places ourselves?"

First, we were going to be outside. So we worked for two years with banks and business people and the town planning and zoning, back and forth, back and forth. The one renowned cranky neighbor in town worked harder to NOT have a business next door. We lost. Start over.

Then, just as we weren't sure what to do next, or how to possibly find a new location, new land that wasn't outrageously expensive (this IS Connecticut after all), land that had big trees, no less, a new inspiration came. Why not try this idea indoors?

And so another year of searching, planning, pulling all of the pieces together. Then there was the day we drove into the parking lot of the place that had housed an inflatable bounce house business, and we looked at each other. This could work.

Spring and summer were spent cleaning, peeling, painting, building. We enlisted help from the kids (this sometimes worked better than others). Dan (and often his dad) spent months on construction. This civil/structural engineer, who left a comfortable, well-paying job that had left him little room to grow was now in some respects out of his element, but in other ways using everything he'd ever learned to design and build.

Then last week, after the long weeks and days and months, we opened. Soar Indoors. The area's first indoor ropes adventure and zip line course.

And like any businesspeople, we realized the work continues: to get people here and keep them coming.

Throughout this process, I've learned much.

I've learned it's not just a cliché -- starting a business is incredibly challenging. You can't get discouraged easily. You can't throw in the towel the first time you hear "no." I have a new respect for anyone who's ever started any kind of business on their own.

I've learned that my husband has an incredible, unshakeable ability to not give up, to find a way where there seems to be no way. He's taught me so much about perseverance, or my lack thereof. I'm so proud of him.

I've learned that as a Christian it's very easy to throw around phrases about "trusting God" when you've got a nice paycheck coming regularly, a good health insurance and retirement plan, when you have the emergency fund in the bank and every bill paid ahead of time. I've learned: how dependent am I? How much do I really know about trust and faith?

I've learned that starting a business is sort of like taking that first step on the ropes course itself. I wrote this three years ago, after an adventure on a different course in New York:

At one point we stood on a platform watching someone else on another course gain the confidence to jump onto a trapeze-like swing into a wide rope ladder that they had to grab onto after letting go of the trapeze. "It's all about the illusion of fear," I said to Dan. "That's what these places are all about. There's no real reason to be afraid, because you're always connected." Each person is latched in not once but twice to the wires and can't possibly plunge to the ground, but when you're looking at how far down it is or how difficult it is to balance, it's so easy to forget that.

While I sweat up in the trees on Saturday I realized how similar it was to my walk with God and my walk in life. I thought about how easy it is to become paralyzed by fear when we only look at our circumstances and forget that we have a God that won't ever let us fall. Even in death, he doesn't let us down. I thought about how often we look at obstacles and immediately deem them impossible, not realizing that if we just take one step at a time, no challenge is as daunting as it seems. God never asks us to travel from point A to Z, just A to B, then B to C. And so on. I saw that course as life...full of adventure, pain, stress...moments when we crawl and others where we soar with the wind, unencumbered. We come through changed, battered, weary. Yet when I challenge myself, when I face my fears on the course and do everything I can possibly do and attempt what I think I cannot, when I push myself to the limit and know I've tried my hardest, even if I didn't completely succeed...that is a life well lived. That is the best kind of adventure.

When you launch yourself onto a zip line, you think you have to do something to make yourself go. You don't quite know how to make yourself move. It's only when you get down into the position of sitting, and lean back and let go, that the line takes you.

The only way to soar is to let go. This is never as easy at it sounds. Sometimes, I think it's a lifelong process.

We're off on our ride. Maybe you'll come see us sometime?

1 comment:

Deenie said...

This is super cool and you should be very proud of yourselves. Maybe one day I will make the 2 hr drive up and if I do I will def introduce myself :-). I wish you all the best with this endeavor.