Letting Go of the End of the Rope

We were standing in a circle all blindfolded. This was the beginning exercise of the ropes course that some of my “sole proprietor” business women friends and I had signed up for when I lived in Sonoma County, in Northern California.

If you have never done a ropes course it is quite an adventure and a test of courage, balance, trust, discovery, team support…..and willingness to let go and try something that you may never have done before (and may not ever do again!).

Granted this was decades ago I did this, but my body still remembers the experience. More about the standing in the circle blind folded in a moment…..

Ropes Course Participant

The image above is an example of what ropes course participants navigate. In the very last exercise of the day we were actually blind folded once again and asked to climb up a skinny tree with some narrow pegs to climb upon, get to a very small platform (that wiggled when you stepped upon it) and then trust that you could catch a trapeze ring that was somewhere in the air ahead of you.

For those of you who are gasping at this daring feat, we were indeed harnessed in so if you miss the trapeze ring you would bounce and then be lowered to the ground. After watching some of my team members miss the ring and simply bounce up and down I thought I was teaching my body that this would be OK.

When I bravely took my turn and landed on the wobbly platform it was then shear terror coursed through my body. Feeling through my other senses to assess right timing and where the ring was ahead of me in the air (ground facilitators could move it back and forth), I took the leap and actually caught the trapeze. With a whoop of delight from me, and a rousing cheer from my team and the facilitators on the ground I was lowered back to stand on the safety of the earth.

Leaping for the Trapeze
Sometimes I feel like the leap into elderhood is like this. We are supposed to know what we are doing as our body ages and challenges we have never experienced arise without the benefit of an elder rites of passage.

I have found, like the ropes course, it takes courage, trust, a willingness to let go – to not only accept limitations when they present – but also to test those perceived limitations, cultivate curiosity leading to discovery, and most important a supportive community along for the ride.

Now back to the beginning of standing in a circle with blindfolds on. Though I knew a couple of the women in the group the others were strangers to me. We heard the facilitators say to us that they just placed a long length of coiled rope in the middle of the circle. Our task was to make a perfect square on the ground from that rope.

As I bent down to start the process of trying to find a part of the rope I was surrounded by everyone’s voice posing a way to perform this task. It was like a cacophony of voices competing with each other saying they knew how to do this.

Meanwhile I had miraculously found the end of the rope and instead of moving around stood rooted to the earth saying over and over “I have the end of the rope, make the square from me.” It seemed like a very long time before anyone really heard me and I was partly in despair that they ever would. But I held my rooted place and finally the din ceased as a few got what I was saying.

After that it didn’t take long for the perfect square to be formed on the ground – starting from where I “had the end of the rope.” Afterwards when we were instructed to take off our blindfolds and hear the facilitators comments I was the first to be targeted.

They pointed at me and said, “”You are the type of person any company/business would value a great deal. The person that grounds and anchors everyone else in order for tasks to be completed, effective actions planned and carried out, and teamwork enhanced.”

I learned a lot about myself that day in so many ways. What the facilitators told me of my pattern of being in life and with others has now come full circle. It feels like I am indeed blindfolded and taking a leap of trust without always being the one to “have the end of the rope.”

Both experiences now blend together. In the dark liquid of creation never having navigated this terrain before. Like being in a chrysalis and emerging as something entirely different.

Today is the day of my birth 74 years ago. Some say that birthdays no longer matter to them, they don’t care about being recognized or celebrated. I on the other hand say why not? There are so many that never make it into elderhood. We are the privileged ones, though sometimes it may not feel like that, to have these elder years to keep exploring, sensing, feeling, offering our wisdom, humor, compassion and love, creating….and simply being.

I envision a rites of passage into our elder years where we support each other along the way by taking turns having the end of the rope….and encouraging each other to leap into the exploration of new territory, though we can’t quite see where we are going to…. or who we are becoming.

See, smell, hear, touch…appreciating what each day has to offer as we fling ourselves out into our lives….one step at a time.

The beauty of withering is actually moving towards a simplicity of living and an acceptance of living.”

Annie Norgarb.

“Wrinkles, lines, scars – there are many ways that time leaves its mark on our bodies. Yet mainstream culture dreads getting older – we are urged to fight the ageing process, and many feel pressure to lie about their age. But as Betty Friedan famously said: “Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” With age can come confidence, and freedom to realize who we really are. As we age, we grow into a deeper kind of beauty, one which works its way from the inside out. It’s a more authentic beauty because it radiates from within. So let’s celebrate lives well lived. And feel lucky to wake each morning to appreciate what the new day has to offer.”

Filmed in McGregor, South Africa. Featuring Annie Norgarb.

Filmed by Green Renaissance: All of our films are made possible through the generous support of our patrons. To be part of this journey : https://www.patreon.com/greenrenaissance



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Gaye Abbott, Natural Passages Consulting, 7/7/22. Please feel free to share this post.

2 Comments on “Letting Go of the End of the Rope

  1. I so enjoyed this article (actually, all of them!) but I was especially impressed by the comments on the “Elder Rite of Passage ”
    since our church community is starting to talk about that very issue. Too many elders just disappear into the woodwork and are forgotten. Do you have any ideas on just how the rite of passage would be conducted, or how you would call people to this marking of this age and stage?.

    • Thanks for your comments Bonita! I would love to have a community dialog about Elder Rites of Passage. Please feel free to contact me via this website by scrolling to the bottom of the Offerings page and emailing me from there on how to contact you. https://wildlyfreeelder.com/offerings/ Look forward to connecting! Gaye

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