I think one of my new favorite words is tethered. Isn’t it strange how you can go through life and a word that you’ve heard hundreds of times suddenly becomes important in your life journey? It suddenly has meaning in your world, it suddenly helps you think and breathe and learn — tethered. A word we’ve all heard at some point. A word, the meaning of which suddenly became clear to me in an unlikely place.
When I was a kid, we always had a carnival in my town during the summer months. Given the fact that the town I grew up in had, at the time, about 15,000 residents, the summer carnival season was a gathering place for everyone. It was small — but it was something to do after a long day at the lake. My group of friends and I usually would ride our bikes to the carnival at the end of those carefree summer days.
I remember one year there was a hot air balloon that you could float up in the air and look out over the whole town. My friends were all for this adventure. I however, opted out. I remember studying the rope that tethered it to the ground. I remember thinking how that one rope couldn’t possibly keep that balloon from becoming adrift — it couldn’t possibly keep it secure. I even remember talking to the man who seemed to be in charge of the balloon to get his input on the one thin tether. He assured me that it was fine… it was safe… it was secure.
I stayed on the ground. I watched my friends float up. I stared in fear at the thin rope tethering that balloon and my friends, hoping it wouldn’t send them adrift into the hot summer night. They returned to Earth… safe, secure — and with stories of how far they could see into the night. I’ve still never been in a hot air balloon — maybe one day.
I was chatting with a friend a few months ago and she made a remark that she felt a little distant, a little adrift. She said she needed to know she was tethered to something, to someone real. I thought about this for a long time. This word — tethered. I remembered the thin rope that held the hot air balloon safe, secure. It dawned on me that one small rope could absolutely be strong enough to hold that hot air balloon in place.
One voice saying, “it’s ok”, “breathe”, “I’m here”, is absolutely enough to keep you from feeling adrift — to keep you tethered.