Climbing onto the Tightrope

“Life should be lived on the edge of life. You have to exercise rebellion: to refuse to tape yourself to rules, to refuse your own success, to refuse to repeat yourself, to see every day, every year, every idea as a true challenge – and then you are going to live your life on a tightrope.” -Philippe Petit

What scares you more: giving a presentation to hundreds of people or flying on a trapeze 23 feet above ground?

I’m fairly certain there’s a party game sold at Urban Outfitters that asks this hypothetical question. I’m pretty sure I’ve played that game.

But this time, it’s not a game and it doesn’t matter which scares me more.  I will attempt both in one week. This Saturday, I will try Trapezing (is that a verb?). Next Saturday, I’ll give a big presentation – as I’m the guest speaker at the Southern Sleep Society Conference’s Awards Banquet Dinner.

Am I scared? Yes. Deliriously excited? Yes.

“I’m trying Trapeze next Saturday,” I casually reported to friends last weekend.

“You’re doing WHAT?!”

That’s when it hit me – I’m doing WHAT?!

I suppose this should have hit me when my friend Rachel asked me a few months ago and I agreed…  But instead, I said yes without thinking about it and now that I am thinking about it – I can’t think of much that scares me more – besides jumping out of a plane.

I’ve often described cataplexy as walking on a tight-rope, not knowing if I’ll make it across a room without falling. So why subject myself to more risk?

Truthfully, I’m scared as hell. I will take extra medication to ensure I don’t have cataplexy while on the Trapeze. But in general, heights scare me – which is why I’m determined to try.

I have this new theory that taking risks is essential to truly “living.”  Not in the phyiscal breathing way. Living in the discovery way – finding that “impossible” may be possible. 

Next Saturday, I will give my presentation to the Southern Sleep Society. It’s probably the biggest presentation I’ve given standing alone at a podium. I’ve slowly become more comfortable speaking in front of larger audiences. Before getting on stage, I close my eyes and channel my dad’s calmness mixed with my own energy/passion. It’s a great combo!

After the Sleep Walk, a woman I highly respect said that I was great in front of the crowd. “This is a real talent,” she said, with a serious face. I couldnt’ help but laugh. Speaking in front of big groups scares me, but I’ve learned a trick – appear confident and others will *think* you are confident.

I hope this post inspires others to try something that scares them. Risk comes in many forms – trying new foods, jumping out of planes, saying “I love you” first.  These are my attempts to risk more – and in turn, live more. Wish me luck! I’ll report back afterwards.


  1. Life on Pause on March 21, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Truth be told? Terrified, deathly, of public speaking. If I don't keep my hands moving or clasped, the audience can see them shaking. If I don't have water near, I can't speak because my mouth gets so dry. By the time I'm finished, I have a migraine. And what does everyone say? "You were fantastic!" "That was SO great!" "You were so well spoken, so informative." Confidence is ABSOLUTELY key. Doesn't make me feel better, though.

  2. Gail on March 22, 2012 at 11:32 am

    You are truly an inspiration while walking through thunderstorms you dance in the rain. Facing and overcoming your fears is what life is all about and you do it with style and humor. Bon Chance Saturday and next week. The best way to prepare is practice.

  3. Anonymous on March 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I really enjoyed this blog Julie…I love your writing style! Thank you!

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