Rope Bridge Moments

Today’s an interior design post. And by interior design, I’m referring to the kind on the right side of the picture below…

It’s about the day I decided to see Rock City and how I forced myself to move a mental mountain thanks to a wobbly walkway that I was positive I’d never be able to cross.


It was called the Swing-A-Long Bridge and I had no idea you had to cross the thing to get out of the park. It stopped me dead in my tracks, and I truly believed, with every fiber of my being, that I would not be able to cross it.

No way.

No how.

Not. Gonna. Happen.

I mean, I really, really believed it just wasn’t something that I could do.

For some reason, I don’t do well with a number of things, but extra loud places, extra quiet places, extra dark places, and extra high places are a few of my biggest fears.


And believe me when I say, the Swing-A-Long Bridge feels even more treacherous than it looks in that last photo. It had an Indiana-Jones-and-the-Temple-Of-Doom vibe and visions of a falling Harrison Ford & Co. began to run rampant in my mind.

Walking all the way back through the park wasn’t really an option though. At one point you have to go through something called “Fat Man’s Squeeze”, and as you can see in the photo below, it’s really a one-way traffic kind of a thing:


So, much to my dismay, I had to get across that bridge if I wanted to go home. (insert paralysis here)

It was about that same time, a group of young kids came running up full speed behind me. I noticed their parents walking in the distance behind them, and it was pretty apparent the kids could not WAIT to bounce their way across that scary, swingy thing.


And when I say “bounce their way”, I mean: all three kids grabbed ahold of those rope rails, and seriously shook that sucker up and down the entire way across it.

It was horrifying and comforting all at the same time. Horrifying for obvious reasons, and comforting because once they made it safely across, (whew!) I did feel a wee flicker of youcandothis. 

It was in that moment that I decided to just do it. I had to quit thinking about it, and just do it.

I looked behind me to make sure there weren’t any more speedy little bridge bouncers coming up from behind, and once I was certain the coast was clear, I grabbed ahold of those rope rails and started walking. The walkway bobbed up and down with each careful step, and I heard noises that had my heart racing like crazy. I kept my eyes firmly fixed on the finish line the whole way.

Needless to say, I made it to the other side, and I was instantly filled to the brim with happiness and adrenaline! I felt so alive, (no pun intended) and ever since then, I’ve referred to those types of accomplishments as “rope bridge moments”.

I’ll admit, I’m still too chicken to put myself in those kinds of positions more than a few couple times a year, but forcing myself through something that initially feels scary-impossible, and experiencing a rope bridge moment after the fact, does help me to remember that I don’t have to be fearless. I just need to try to not let my fears paralyze me from taking action. And even though they are few and far between- rope bridge moments sure do have a way of adding up, don’t they?

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  1. Kathy says

    First, you’re brave and you own that victory!
    I also want to share an important secret.
    It is impossible to be grateful and fearful at the same time. They are mental opposites. You are a person of faith so this will be easy for you to remember. Try it sometime. 100% guaranteed to help you be brave and get through more rope-bridge moments. :) GB

  2. Melissa says

    I was on that very bridge when a large group of boy scouts came running – I mean, running – onto it and proceeded to jump up and down! I was absolutely terrified, but as you said, there is a sense of accomplishment when your feet step onto solid ground!

  3. says

    This is so great. I have similar fears that I have to work to conquer. In fact, I actually could feel that panicked feeling as I was thinking of you crossing that bridge! I love how you turned it into your “rope bridge moment” though, to you remind yourself that you can overcome! Thanks for sharing your inspiration!

  4. says

    I just love you, Layla. You are so REAL! Must be that Minnesota stuff showing through. I am with a lot of the other posters……Fat Man Squeeze would have done me in. WAY TO GO!! We are all proud of you!

  5. Terry says

    Way to go, Layla! Im right there with you. A few years ago we visited Masada in israel. ( check it out on the Internet). I thought I’d endured the worst with the tram ride up to the top, until I stepped of the tram on to a narrow walking bridge built out from the side of the mountain. You could look straight down on either side and the only thing separating me from certain death were a couple of steel cables. There was no where to go but straight ahead. While my husband struck out for the adventure of his life forgetting all about his terrified-of-heights wife, I took about 10 steps and gradually crumbled to my knees in utter paralysis! I’ve never been so afraid in my life!! A wonderful couple , who I was blocking, asked if I was alright. After seeing my tear-streaked face they realized the answer was no, and they graciously walked on either side of me(picture 1 lane bridge)

  6. Hailey Johnston says

    I’ve been terrified of that thing for as far back as I can remember! I was not like those kids in your post conquering the bridge with no fear. It terrified me as a child and still does! LOVE that you were in Chattanooga! Hope you enjoyed your visit and got to experience more of the amazing things we have to offer! Great Post!

  7. Joan says

    Love Rock City! But, like you, dont love the bridge or squeezing thru those passes. Have you ever been to Ruby Falls? Now THATS scary!

  8. Wendy says

    I LOVE it!!! Great post. We need more of those “rope bridge moments” in our life to feel really “alive”!

  9. says

    I’m with you–I would rather not use them. Having to these kinds of things without showing any fear when the kids were small gave me lots of experience and confidence.

  10. Nancy says

    Good for you. I can SO relate. I’m not sure I would have made it through the tiny part in the beginning though since I’m almost as claustrophobic as I am acrophobic. I’m impressed.

  11. Rae says

    Your post brought back memories and made me smile. I am now 54 years old and when I was about 10 or 12 our family went to Rock City. When we got to “the bridge” my mom refused to go across. After a lot of begging and pleading from us kids and my dad threatening to leave her there (LOL) she finally started. She was scared to death, my dad being the prankster decided he would make the bridge “bounce”. Mom got soooooo upset she “sat down” in the middle of the bridge and refused to move. I remember a lot of crying, screaming, pleading, threatening, and heavens knows what else before mom got up and went across. We have never let her forget that day and neither did dad, she is still capable of getting mad everytime we menion it. She fails to see the humor in it. :) Memories of family vacations!

  12. says

    That’s wonderful that you were able to overcome your fears! That is not an easy feat by any means. Sounds like you made some wonderful memories on Lookout Mountain.

    For the others wondering about Rock City, or worrying about that bridge, there is an alternate stone bridge that isn’t as scary at all. Fat Man’s Squeeze comes after the bridges and there are alternative paths all around so you could avoid it too if you wanted. Don’t though because it’s not as scary as it seems. It’s mostly about the size of your shoulders.

  13. says

    I still have nightmares about Fat Man Squeeze and it has been 14 years since I went through it. My husband and I took our 1 year old twins not realizing you could not bring strollers through. We carried those girls through the entire thing and had to push them through the squeeze. I was not a happy girl that day. What were we thinking??

  14. Barbara Simmons says

    I once had a similar experience in my younger days crossing the Shenandoah River. I thought I was going die! never want to do that again.

  15. says

    Aaron and Stephanine,My heart is hurting for your loss, but in time I know are heart will heal with God’s love. He never put more on us than we can hadlne,but why is hard to understand,but some day we will. Aleena is such a beauiful girl and is she will forever be in our hearts and minds. My love and prayers are with you and I’m here when you both want to talk or see me.Love ya,Aunt Margaret

  16. Jennifer K says

    Over the past month or so, I”ve been reading your blog from the first entry forward. This post spoke to me so loudly that I had to say thank you.