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CN Tower EdgeWalk: Facing your fears, or enjoying adrenaline?

edgewalk

We did it! On August 10th, we did the thing we’ve been planning for over a year (since we couldn’t swing the money for our anniversary last year): the EdgeWalk at the CN Tower in Toronto.

Yes, it’s pricey. It comes to almost $200 per person with tax. It’s also a pretty cool experience. I was lucky enough to enjoy it with my Hubbibi Sean (married nine years!), my brother Ben, my two sisters, Em and Beth, Beth’s boyfriend Dylan – and Ben and Jasmine, the two other random people who chose the same walk time.

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EdgeWalk suits = adorable, n’est-ce pas?

If you’re thinking of going – or if you’re just curious – here are a few things you might like to know:

  • The EdgeWalk happens just above the observation deck, i.e. 116 storeys above the ground. (That’s 356m/1168ft.)
  • It’s the highest full-circle hands-free walk in the world – a Guinness World Record – but apparently something similar did exist in New Zealand first.
  • In French, they call it “Haut-Da Cieux”, which would roughly translate to “High Da Skies”, but it’s cool because if you say it aloud, it sounds like “audacieux.” Audacious. Yes indeed.
  • It’s really quite safe. They’ve been doing many EdgeWalks a day since 2011 and haven’t lost anyone yet.
  • You have to wear their custom-made suits, and wedgie harnesses, and then there are two different ropes to attach you to the structure (one stretchy).
  • Your shoes must be closed – if you accidentally wore sandals, though, they lend you shoes.
  • You can’t have ANYTHING droppable up there. No jewelry, no phone or camera, not even your watch. My sister had tape put over a piercing, and several of us had our glasses on lanyards attached to our suits.
  • You CAN get married up there (I know you were wondering), with real pretty bride-and-groom walk suits, but you have to use their special elasticized rings, and you can’t have more than eight guests. Oh, and you pay $6K.
  • You walk on a see-through metal grate the width of a sidewalk (1.5 m).
  • You spend about half an hour on the walk itself. The rest of the hour-and-a-half includes suiting up, being checked over for safety many times, hearing the rules, and coming back to base camp for your DVD and solo photo (included in the price – but if you want all the photos you pay extra).
  • For a full 8-person walk, you get two guides, who take you through several exercises when you’re up there, as well as offering some information about the giant buildings you’re looking way down on.
  • We did Toes Over Toronto (walk right to the edge and put your toes over it – and look down if you can), the backward lean (sit in your harness and shuffle back until you’re at the edge, then straighten your knees and lean back), and the Titanic Pose (walk almost to the edge, lean straight forward into the rope, and go up on your toes and let go).
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The backward lean. BMO and Royal Bank buildings visible on the right.
  • We were lucky to get an absolutely gorgeous day: warm with a light breeze, clear enough to see across the lake. The SkyDome roof was open (yeah, I know it’s the Rogers Centre, but it will always be the SkyDome in our hearts), and the noise of the crowd whooshed right up to us whenever they cheered.
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See the SkyDome under our feet?
  • Some of us loved it, and some of us endured it.

Ben and Jasmine were cool as cucumbers (Ben was so cool he barely cracked a smile). Five of our party were loving the view and wishing we could spend more time out there. My poor Sean, though, was visibly anxious the whole time. In fact, he’d been anxious about it for at least a week before we even went. He was unable to get all the way to the edge for Toes Over Toronto, even though he was trying as hard as he could to breathe himself through it. He was able to do the Backward Lean, but did not choose to look up at the spike of the tower.

It was interesting to show the DVD footage to our kids. It was a good opportunity to talk about what courage really is. E was asking, “Why isn’t Daddy doing it? Why is he nervous?” The big, strong, pragmatic, hardworking guy who never seems afraid – and whose idea this excursion was – has a terrible time with heights.

On the day of the walk, once back inside the tower, Sean said he had to give us all props for doing the leaning and the looking and the letting go. He felt bad that he couldn’t make himself do the “daring” things the rest of us did.

But really, he was the brave one. Just being out there is a big step for an acrophobe. For those of us who don’t mind heights, there wasn’t really courage involved. I mean, I walked out to the edge and felt a thrilling flip in my stomach, but I never felt like panicking. For me, heights are exhilarating.

On the other hand, if I think of something that would make me panic, like being locked in a small space, you could not pay me enough to make me do that for half an hour. (Well, maybe you could – but it would have to be a LOT of money.) Fortunately for me, there is no industry glamourizing the thrill-seeking bad-assery of folks who want to confront their claustrophobia by braving small spaces.

So, the essential message for my kids on Courage: it doesn’t kick in unless you’re afraid.

What’s the worst fear you’ve confronted?

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Oh, Rob. *Sigh*

Ford
Image from cbc.ca

Dear Rob Ford,

When you were elected as mayor of Canada’s largest city, all my Torontonian friends were aghast. They never thought you’d make it in. Having lived in Toronto for a couple years myself, I had to agree that you seemed pretty incongruous: Toronto is, after all, known for its diverse, savvy, cosmopolitan character, and you simply did not seem to reflect that. But hey, obviously you had enough voters. Who am I to argue?

I admit that I felt bad for you, that time you made a resolution to get fit and, um… failed. We’ve all had those times when we didn’t measure up to our own dreams for ourselves, and I’ll give you kudos for trying so publicly.

Suddenly, I could picture you as a high school kid, the kind who masks social insecurities by being a boor and drinking too much. It seems you never really got over that.

I heard your apology speech yesterday as it happened. Again, and rather in spite of myself, I felt pity for you. You did sound truly sorry (that triple “sincerely” really drove it home) and I’m sure it was all very difficult for you.

Also, I’m glad you admitted you were ashamed, that you’re an embarrassment, because that’s the first step to admitting there’s a problem with you. The question is, what took you so long? How were you not ashamed earlier? How were you not embarrassed by getting called out for those city buses you commandeered for your football team, for those pictures of you reading-and-driving on the Gardiner, for swearing on camera, for getting drunk in public, or for all the times you cut out early or didn’t show up for important events?

I didn’t actually see you fail to stop for a streetcar, and I don’t actually know if the sexual harassment charges hold true, but as a public figure, you must know that none of that matters. We’ve all lost count of the number of times your name has come up on the radio, followed by a report of sleazy/unprofessional behaviour, and we’ve rolled our eyes, thinking “How the hell is that guy still in office??”

Then we thought you were finally done for when you went on trial for Conflict of Interest. It felt like the one-jillionth strike against you, in a world where three strikes is usually enough to take you off the field. Honestly, I have no idea how you managed to wrangle your way back to the mayor’s chair from that one.

Furthermore, I don’t know why you wanted to. I simply don’t get why you think this mayor job is for you. Generally, when a city needs a mayor, one starts with UPSTANDING CITIZENS. I don’t mean to be uncharitable, but you simply ARE NOT ONE. Anyone who uses a “drunken stupor” as an excuse for smoking crack has a wacked-out idea of what it means to be a respectable person.

You have, in the past, lashed out at the media, saying “Show some respect.” (I can’t deny they’ve hounded you.)  But you neither show respect nor inspire it.

You apparently want to “regain the trust” of your constituents and “continue the work” you’ve already been doing. But seriously, there is no way to regain the trust at this point. It is gone. And as for continuing the work, I have to ask: does the amount of work you’ve done for the city even come close to the amount of time wasted on all the stupid shit you’ve done?

So why do you want this gig? Are you showing up some former bullies? Is it sheer pathological doggedness? Maybe it’s all a joke, just to see how much you can get away with and still hold onto your post? Or perhaps you’re being paid off by the federal Conservatives, to make them look less evil. After all, who cares about gross Senate overspending and Harper’s warmongering and duplicity – at least they don’t smoke crack!

To be frank, I’m not even sure what you love about Toronto. If you don’t like streetcars or cyclists or immigrants or refugees or women or Pride or homeless people or journalists, then you’re in the wrong city. You could definitely find football teams in towns more suited to you.

The bottom line is that, as mayor of Canada’s largest city, you represent all of us to a degree – regardless of whether any of us want you to. Thanks to you, in this way, we ALL look like idiots and we are ALL a laughingstock. And that is not okay.

Please, don’t be that obtuse, untrustable boyfriend who refuses to see he’s being broken up with. You do not need this job. You need help. You need to fix yourself before you can fix anything else. And I’m afraid Toronto’s just not that into you.

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