By Danielle Emeka
I helped a friend move over the weekend. After getting the last of the boxes into her new place, a group of us decided to go on a hike. I knew we were headed towards the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland but didn’t know exactly where we were headed. One of my friends asked, “Are you afraid of heights?” Feeling confident I answered “no” and we set off.
We arrived at the Bridge of The Gods about 50 miles east of Portland. Not surprisingly I had some hesitations and some questions. “Are we really walking across that? Can we, since there is no sidewalk?” “Is it really that high?” “Why is it so high?!?”
Despite my objections we paid our dollar pedestrian crossing fee and headed towards the bridge. There was a lot to take in. The grate on the floor of the bridge rattled with all the movement from the cars. The wind was so loud and blew my hair in all directions. The railing was cold and dirty from car exhaust.
Looking through the grate the water rushed under me. Even though we were almost 150 feet above the water, it felt so close. I got to that level of scared where I started laughing, as if I were laughing at my own fear. Since I was already halfway across, there was no turning back.
Then I caught the view — the sheer vastness of the river, the trees, the clear sky and shining sun. Just for a moment I dismissed all hesitation I had previously. We all paused to appreciate the view. All the distractions of before — traffic, wind and noise — no longer mattered. We lived in the moment, if just for a moment.
This small experience taught me a lot about taking risks. All the emotions I felt walking across the bridge are no different than any big life decision, with its fear of the unknown and exhilaration upon embracing the experience.
As I enter my last 3 terms at Portland State University and look ahead to the rest of the year, there are some big life decisions I have to make. As I work towards my goals it’s exciting to imagine them coming to fruition. Yet I’m terrified. That’s because attaining these goals brings great change, like being away from my friends and family in Portland and being truly on my own. But amidst all of this uncertainty, there is hope. I know that despite all my hesitation, my next life chapter will be just like the moment on the bridge, where nothing else matters except what’s on the horizon.