My heart was pounding and my mouth was dry from shallow breathing, and all I was doing was watching tightrope walker Nik Wallenda cross the Grand Canyon while I sat on my couch trying to concentrate enough to get across the room for a drink of water 10 feet away.
I have heard of the “Flying Wallendas” since I was a little girl, but little did I think that I would ever witness the first human to cross the Grand Canyon without a tether or safety net. I have been to the Grand Canyon several times, and it is the most intimidating hole in the ground you will ever see. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon stretches 18 miles wide and 227 miles long. Nik Wallenda’s challenge was to cross a span of four football fields from a height equivalent to the Empire State Building, balancing on a two-inch steel cable while carrying a 43-pound pole.
Take it from someone who finds it daring to drive a bug out of the house, this no-man’s land in Arizona is so treacherous and remote that even scorpions don’t dwell there. Since there is no way I can ever relate to why he did it, I had to try to understand what was going on in his mind.
Many verified that he is not a foolish man who takes risks, yet I watched him balance above a 1,500 feet chasm while fighting violent updrafts of warm air from the bottom of the canyon that kicked up swirling dust from the canyon walls in 95 degree weather and the possibility of summertime thunderstorms.
Known as the world’s most fearless aerialist, he had the calming demeanor of someone you wish was your next door neighbor—not the guy who got mad because you backed over his trash barrels, but the patient, kind man who would see you through a rough time in your life by being a stabilizing friend.
Insights into Nik Wallenda’s Mind:
Preparedness: It is known that unpreparedness is the main reason for tight rope walkers’ deaths. Wallenda relentlessly trained in Sarasota, Florida under extreme conditions. Before and during his walk, four weather stations tracked and monitored weather conditions. The 8-1/2 tons of wire which he crossed was built by a team of 250 people. The key to success was the science of the wire. The wire was only as good as its anchor, so all the surrounding ground had to be pre-tested for stability.
Trust in His Team: Wallenda’s family is at the heart of his business. His father is his Safety Co-ordinator, his mother hand makes his shoes, and is uncle monitors the wire, which became a one-dimensional trampoline as he crossed to the other side. Nik Wallenda is the leader of an army that stands with him and literally holds his life in their hands.
Focus: Surprisingly, his nervous tension comes before he starts, while he is on the ground. Once he steps onto the wire, he relaxes. With the first step, he can tell about the wind condition and gauges his pace. While my heart rate was racing when I sat in the living room watching him, his heart rate slowed down as he stepped on the wire. He never lost sight of his focal point, even though his contact lenses were burning from the high winds and his sight tricked him up with optical illusions. Always, his mental focus was in-tact.
Mental Toughness: His mental toughness came from deep, deep within. All the way across the Grand Canyon, he prayed. While some probably thought this was odd, it was unique to watch a man give thanks and praise to God while he battled the most difficult task of his life. He had no haughty pretense of his faith, only a genuine trust and confidence that God would help him get to the other side safely. I witnessed his insecurity when unexpected wind pressure created a dangerous rhythm in the cable that caused him to have to stop for a few seconds and squat down to steady the wire. Did he look down? Of course! He knew he was the only person in the world that had ever had such a vantage point.
Where Do We Go From Here?
If you are battling breast cancer and don’t know which way to turn, remember that you can go to www.BeyondTheShock.com for answers to prepare you for your journey. Friends are waiting there to support you with comforting words. Nik Wallenda said as he was walking the wire, he leaned back into the wind instead of leaning forward, which would cause him to fall. He had to get the tension right. Trust in your support system.
You may think breast cancer has ruined your life, but you have just found yourself looking from the most amazing vantage point of your life—a 1,500 foot view of your life filled with disappointments of the past and hopes for the most glorious future that awaits. The tension of the good and the bad have given you the opportunity to now step out on the adventure of your lifetime. Nik Wallenda lives by three words, “Never give up.” Why did 700,000 tweets go out while Nik Wallenda crossed to the other side? Because he did the impossible, and so can you.
Thought for Today:
“Impossible situations can become possible miracles.” Robert H. Schuller