I was probably six or seven years old, and I was forced to go with my sisters on a weekend “teen” day trip. My sisters are eight and eleven years older than me…so there were a lot of times they got stuck with me!
This trip happened to be with Teen Life, a high school group at our Church. Both my sisters were fairly active in the group as they were both in the teen band that played during Mass on Sundays. I’m not sure if this trip was open to siblings or if the group made an exception for my sisters? As, I don’t remember other younger kids there.
The trip planned was a sledding outing, which sounded awesome as six-year-old kid. I don’t remember all the details… I know we took a bus, that seemed like we were driving ForEVER. I know on the way there the teens in the group were singing songs and having fun with the excitement building as they were asking “are we almost there”.
The next vivid memory I have is getting off the bus and seeing the GIAGANTIC set of stairs, it must have been 10 stories high… You could hardly see the top… People walking carrying wooden things, and they would slowly disappear into the distance.
As my sisters are bundling me up in my snowsuit…
the screams… oh, the screams. Those same people that were walking were now coming down the hill, screaming. Screaming, blood-curdling SCREAMS.
One of my sisters says she was going to get the toboggan – toboggan, I thought we were sledding!
One by One, I start watching very closely the procession of people awkwardly marching up the seemingly insurmountable set of stairs with these long wooden toboggans.
One by One. They would return screaming all the way down.
“No way am I going to do that, “ I proclaim to my sisters “the hill is too high, the toboggans go too fast and I’m too little and I’m going to fall off!”
They said fine. “Watch us go and you will see”
I watched and I waited and still said NO
Being the sisters, they were… They weren’t going to let their snot nose brother ruin their fun.
Up and down the Hill they went… As I watched… they had fun.
They would periodically ask if I was ready to go… still no
They end of the day was approaching fast… I remember the leader of our group, say ‘we are leaving in 10 minutes.’
I think as a throwaway comment, one of my sisters said, “are you sure, we go one last time with you.?”
Finally, I agreed.
I remember the feeling of climbing the stairs. The knots in my stomach, churning and churning.
The sun was now behind the trees and the wind was cold on my checks.
Slowly we climb, with seven-year-old legs length strides.
Now at the top, I was petrified. What if… What if…
READY SET GO…….. (they didn’t even give me a chance to protest!)
Five-Ten seconds to the bottom. My sisters screaming, Me holding my breath.
The Screams… well, they were screams of excitement and the release of energy… To be free for just a moment.
Holy COW, how cool was that! Let’s do it AGAIN!
“Little Brother, we have been here for hours… you waited until the last Five minutes to realize the fun you could have been having. Sorry, it’s time to go”
With that, the day was done! Although disappointing it had to end, the lesson learned that day was a big one.
Even though I let fear win most of that day, I did conquer my fear in the end!
The rush of the toboggan ride was something I still chase today in business, in life, and in relationships.
Looking back, it is amazing, the lessons we learn at such a young age.
Face your fears, early and often, they may just turn into FUN