I watched as Nik Wallenda walked on a 2-inch-thick steel cable, 1,500 feet above the river on the Navajo Nation near the Grand Canyon without a harness or a safety net. I can’t count how many times I held my breath when the wind blew or he would seem unsure of the next steps. My friend and I texted as we watched, wondering how much longer it would until he would reach safety on the other side. The faces of those on either side of the tightrope were filled with apprehension and concern. While viewers watched around the world, many questioned his reasoning for taking on something so dangerous without the aid of some type of safety device.
I think most of us have felt that we were walking a “tightrope” at some point in our lives. That’s where I am right now. One year ago, in July, I took those first steps out onto my tightrope. I walked out in full confidence that I was prepared in every way for the journey. I believed this was the path I was supposed to take. I had a harness and a safety net in place. I was afraid, but most things in life don’t come without some risk and willingness to follow an unknown path.
The thing is, once you are out on that rope, looking back can cause you to falter or even fall. You have to focus on each step and keep moving toward the safety on the other side. When I stepped out, I couldn’t really see the other side. I just knew I couldn’t stay on the edge of the cliff any longer. Somewhere along the way, I lost my harness and my safety net. I am out in the middle of the tightrope today, and I still can’t see the other side. Things I had planned didn’t go the way I believed they would go. John Lennon’s song says, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
The part time job I counted on fell through and a second part time job did the same. Several months of being ill ended in a short visit to the hospital. Medical costs, paying for COBRA (health insurance), unexpected bills and car repairs depleted the savings that would take me until mid October when I would begin collecting Social Security Retirement. For the first time in more years that I can count, I am without health insurance. Safety net and harness are gone.
This morning I had the oil changed in my car. The service person came out to tell me that my windshield wipers were separating and I needed new ones. They would be happy to replace them for me. I asked how much it would cost. He shrugged and said, “Not very much at all. It would only be about $30.” I forced a smile and explained that I couldn’t afford that right now. I stopped at the grocery store and spent a long time trying to decide what I could afford to buy today. I am trying to eat healthy foods, but Twinkies and canned foods loaded with sodium are much less expensive. A friend invited me to meet them at the water park today. I had to say no. I came home and tried to figure out how to budget for the rest of the month since I have car taxes and a parking ticket to pay. Just as a sideline, the parking ticket was very unjust but that will be another blog post. I wonder if I will be able to afford my books when college classes start back mid August.
Long ago, I promised myself that I would never be in a place like this again. My friend JanF. was filled with wonderful saying. She would remind me to “never say never because if you do, life will surely teach you a lesson about that. “ Much like Nik Wallenda, I have people in my life who question my decision to step out on the tightrope. They are the ones who believe I won’t make it to the other side and they are waiting to be able to say, “We told you so. ” Like Nik Wallenda, I pray and believe that God is going to protect me and be with me through out the journey. And like Nik Wallenda, people ask, “How can you ask God to help you when you put yourself out on the tightrope?”
I sometimes say the same things to myself. Yet, I am very grateful to now have a job. It is part time with no benefits (at least for now), but it is helping me maneuver this tightrope. I am blessed to have family and friends who are cheering me on. My daughter and her husband have opened their home and allowed me to share it with them. My health is good, for now. Someone is helping me with a plan to get my medications at a cost I can afford. Right now, my car is running well with the exception of the windshield wipers. Perhaps the tears I cry from time to time help keep the tightrope free of dust and debris, just as Nik “spat on his hands and rubbed it on the sole of his shoe for grip” when the cable gathered dust.” Nik carried a 43 pound balancing pole. Faith and prayer have become my balancing pole.
Maybe I was wrong in saying that I have no safety net or harness. When the ones I had in place failed, it seems God provided new ones. His may be much be stronger and better than the I ones I counted on to protect me. I can’t let fear stop me from moving forward, one step at a time. Nik talked about an earpiece that allowed his father to talk to him and encourage him as he walked across the tightrope. I don’t have an earpiece, but if I listen closely, I can hear God talk to me and encourage me. What better harness or safety net is there than that?