Tag Archives: adventure

flash fiction Riding the Zipline Down Under

Riding the Zipline Down Under #flashfiction

I’m not known for being adventurous. I don’t like heights or enclosed spaces or cars that speed. I’m not sure where my fears originated but they generally don’t bother me too much as they have little effect on my everyday life. I don’t have to clean windows on high-rise buildings, and I don’t operate the lifts inside them. I generally take the stairs if going only one or two floors, always checking the door will open again before closing it behind me. I can manage travelling in a lift, especially if there are few other occupants and it goes directly to my floor, but I am always relieved when it arrives and the doors open to release me.

I have never and will never ride a roller coaster or bungy jump; and haven’t as yet and probably won’t, travel on one of those ‘Eyes of’ the world. I don’t feel I am missing out by not doing most of these things. I think life is exciting enough without them.

That’s not to say I haven’t ever done anything I found terrifying. When I visited the Great Wall of China outside Beijing, I had to take a chairlift up to the top. My heart was racing, and my palms were sweaty, but I did it. Then I had to take a flume ride down to the bottom. If pressured, I might say it was even a little bit fun, but I wouldn’t choose to do it again, unless I had no choice as in this instance.

Probably the one thing I think I would love to do, if I was brave enough, is hot air ballooning. I think the sensation of floating up there in the air, looking down on the world, would be amazing. But it could also be terrifying. If I could get on without being overcome by anxiety and knew I could come down when I wanted, I’d probably do it; but I think that’s for another life.

Surprisingly, perhaps, I love being in a plane and looking down at the earth below. One would think a fear of heights and claustrophobia would prevent this. I can’t explain why it doesn’t. I love the moment of lift off, of being taken up into the air. I always thought it would be great to be a bird flying above the earth, looking down. It is a beautiful view. Perhaps that’s why Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach is one of my favourite books.

Anyway, because of my reluctance to do some of these adventurous things like jump out of a plane, go zorbing or ride a zipline, people close to me often joke that they will do them if I will, knowing full well that I won’t, and they won’t have to admit their own reluctance.

So, I was amused this week by a conversation with friend and fellow writer D. Avery on her post Zip: SixSentenceStory. (Please pop over to read it.)

In D.’s story, her young character Marlie made a zipline from the top of the fort for her doll. I was picturing a playground flying fox which I think I would have enjoyed as a child, had they been invented then, and commented that ziplines are fun. (My grandchildren love flying foxes.) D. replied, ‘… let’s agree to disagree on the fun-ness of zip lines. Tell you what, Buddy, you go first.’ Well, that sounded like a challenge to me and I told her that we could maybe go together in a next life or in a story. And so, the story was born, with a little help from Charli Mills.

At the Carrot Ranch this week, Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about dressing up. It can be a child or another character. Be playful or go where the prompt leads!

Perhaps it is a stretch to go from dressing up to a zipline, but we’d have to dress differently from our everyday, wear a harness, and harness a persona we wouldn’t normally wear, so I hope the stretch isn’t too far. After all, it is pure play through story and from USA to Australia is only halfway around the world. Charli always says to go where the prompt leads …

I hope you (especially you, D.) enjoy it.

Riding the Zipline Down Under

Many hid behind Norah’s fear of heights, speed and enclosed spaces. “I’ll do anything Norah does,” they’d boast, feigning bravery. D. said she’d ride the zipline from its start, high up in the US, all the way Down Under, if Norah did.

Dressed for warmth and to prevent chafing, they adjusted their harnesses. “You first,” said D., still not believing Norah would do it.

“Whee! I’m flying; flying without wings,” sang Norah, zooming across the landscape.

“I’m dying,” screamed D., squeezing her eyes shut.

“We’re here,” said Norah. “Welcome to Australia.”

“That was amazing,” said D. “I did it!”

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Adventures in Learning

I have never been physically adventurous; never dived off a high cliff, surfed a rolling wave or bungeed into an abyss; I don’t like heights and get no thrill from the thought of a roller-coaster ride. I don’t believe it’s fear that holds me back. It’s lack of interest and opportunity: I never sought it and it never sought me.

When I was very little I earned the nickname “Possum” because, apparently, I was a climber and constantly getting into mischief. I soon had that knocked out of me by a combination of physical and verbal admonitions. Perhaps this contributed to my dislike of heights, but I think my disinclination for the adrenalin rush of physical activities was inborn.

Fear probably does contribute to my reluctance to participate in other height related activities such as parasailing, hang gliding, gliding and hot air ballooning. Each of these does have a certain amount of appeal and I think I would love the experience, if I was brave enough to take the leap. One day perhaps.

Not only were my explorations through climbing curtailed, I was also discouraged from conducting my own investigations and from asking questions. While my parents encouraged reading through library membership and giving books as gifts, my father was often heard to say, “What you don’t know won’t do you any harm.” Though I read avidly, self-selected material was almost exclusively fiction. Non-fiction was the realm of textbooks set for study in boring school subjects with enforced memorisation for regurgitation in exams and then promptly forgotten.

Fortunately, I gained some sense of the limitations of my own experiences and thinking and endeavoured to avoid limiting my own children in similar ways. Only they will be able to say how much their experiences and learning were restricted. Neither is into extreme physical challenges and I certainly didn’t provide them with opportunities that may have encouraged such activities. However, I did encourage them to be curious, to ask questions and to investigate. I closed the door on thinking that revered ignorance and opened the one for adventures into learning.

It is important for parents and teachers to realise the impact of their attitudes, expressed and otherwise, on the developing attitudes of their children. There is a lovely poem Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte that expresses it rather well.

Below is a list of a few further ingredients that I consider essential for maintaining the fun and adventure in learning throughout life. I’m sure you will think of many more.

Children learn best when they have time to:

  • play,
  • choose,
  • grow and develop,
  • think,
  • problem solve,
  • make many attempts,
  • develop independence,
  • create,
  • be,
  • question,
  • wonder,
  • imagine,
  • explore, and
  • discover

in an environment of respect and encouragement that is unhurried and non-competitive.

While I often say that children are born scientists, constantly exploring the world and conducting experiments to find out what works, we can sometimes take their discoveries for granted as their investigations confirm for them something it seems that we have always known; for example, that something dropped will fall. However, any question that a child asks can be a springboard into further learning. It is the questions asked that have driven science discoveries and understandings: questioning, wondering and imagining.

It is these adventures into the unknown, the exhilaration of learning, that drive me and that have inspired my response to the flash fiction challenge by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch to In 99 words (no more, no less) write an adventure, experienced or witnessed. I hope you enjoy it.

As she reached for the unicorn-shaped balloon the man smiled and winked. She hesitated, accepted the balloon, and pushed back through the small audience. Something made her turn. The bystanders, the man, and the balloons were gone. Puzzled, she scanned the crowd for her mum. A sudden gust puffed out her skirt and, as she clutched the unicorn, lifted her high and away: across the city, over the fields, beyond the horizon; and back. She gazed at the patchwork unfolding:  beautiful, connected, serene; and recognised herself a part. As she descended all was as before. Only she had changed.

And if you are wondering about a unicorn-shaped balloon, it is possible:

Thank you


Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.