It’s possible. Emkan dare.

//It’s possible. Emkan dare.

“Emkan dare” was one of the first phrases I learned in Farsi, “It is possible.” This was coupled with “It is beautiful, isn’t it?” and “That’s strange” along with “left” and “right” and various other more practical words. Technically, the first phrase I learned in Farsi was taught to me in Turkey, but seeing as it made Mohammad and Kiavash blush, I don’t think I will repeat it here. Thanks for that, Nasim.

My language learning technique

My language learning technique

There’s a box in my to-do list that I can’t check off. It says “write a blog in Farsi by the end of April.” I really wish that was this blog. But to do so would feel like cheating for the amount of assistance it would require from reference materials and friends. It turns out that learning a language, working on research and classes for my PhD, organizing a project like this one, having a some semblance of a social life and maintaining my sanity might be a bit much to expect. Especially when I spend a week mostly off grid playing in California. So I’m officially pushing that to-do list item back.

Learning Farsi has been my favorite activity in the last couple of months. It’s exciting, reading a completely foreign script, sounding it out like a five year old learning to read for the first time, the sudden joy at recognizing a word I know. I was reading comments on Facebook one day and kept seeing the same word used. I sounded it out… so… ne… a…! My name! Yeah, felt a bit silly there. But it was wonderful as well. In the beautiful way in which the slackline world connects, I have people from Iran I’ve never met offering me tutorials and tips on the language, commenting on my posts with both Farsi and the English translations. One person even sent me a homemade lesson to help me learn the colors and some syntax. To all of you, thank you. I think I sound more like a six year old now, and I even caught a joke recently without having to translate it.

Mastering illogical fear at Taft Point Photo by Bradley Duling

Mastering illogical fear at Taft Point
Photo by Bradley Duling

While we are planning for the Iran half of the exchange, the second part of this project will be to bring Mohammad and Kiavash to the states next spring/summer. In particular, we want to walk some of the classic, iconic lines in Yosemite and Moab. So I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to travel to California last week and get my first taste of Yosemite. Of course, I immediately fell in love with the valley and foresee spending a lot of time there in the future. With some help from friends (Nate Huerta, Michael Blackwell, Faith Dickey, and Bradley Duling) I set up and walked my first highline in Yosemite at Taft Point. Only 60 ft long, but more than 600 ft high and hand tensioned, it was definitely one of the more daunting lines I’ve walked. The view drops away more than 3000 ft down to the valley floor. For the first time in a while I felt that pure visceral fear, a voice in my mind saying “what the heck are you doing hanging from two flimsy pieces of webbing?” and that was just while I was taping the line and looking down at the view. Of course the reality is that this beautifully exposed line is no more dangerous than the 100 ft high lines I’ve walked in the past. Try telling your brain that.

I shook off that feeling as soon as I’d tied in and knelt on the line to mount, though. This is familiar. This is my comfort zone these days. Through a couple chance meetings, our Taft point day ended up being a bit of a gathering. I was lucky enough to spend the day with some awesome slackers, and thanks again to Michael for the use of some gear to supplement my minimalist highline rig I’d brought with me. Ok, minimalist is being generous.  I’d forgotten my leash rings at work. Who keeps leash rings at work? And was short on a quicklinks after leaving a few behind in Turkey. It happens. Luckily for me, the slackline world is full of fantastic people. Thanks for a beautiful day, guys.

Bradley Dulling living up the exposure

Bradley Duling

Michael Blackwell enjoying the view

Michael Blackwill

Hayley Ashburn

Hayley Ashburn

Ben Gingold

Ben Gingold

By |2018-02-24T17:21:59+00:00April 30th, 2014|Blog|3 Comments

About the Author:

Highliner, Traveler, Scientist, Storyteller Highliner and slackline instructor Sonya Iverson travels around the world to slackline festivals to assist with highline rigging and to promote the efforts of the International Slackline Association, of which she is president. Sonya graduated with a PhD in Molecular Biology from Boston University in 2016. She now focuses on the development of the slackline community as the sport grows in popularity. Sonya founded Slackline U.S., a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting safety and conservation in slacklining and to assisting with access management for the slackline community. Her passion is on using slacklining to connect cultures with Crossing Lines.


  1. Mommy May 1, 2014 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    Great Blog Sonya. You sound so happy and relaxed and so excited about your life. The pictures are also great. Good to see the people you talk about.

  2. Loved this blog! June 17, 2014 at 7:22 am - Reply

    Beautiful pictures of Taft Point Highlining! What kind of webbing is that? and Why is the weblock twisted like that? Great work, keep it up!

    • Sonya Iverson July 10, 2014 at 11:20 am - Reply

      Thanks! It’s double Type-18, one strand folded over and used for both main and backup. And the weblock twists depending on the way it’s anchored. If we’d attached an extra shackle in there or adjusted the slings we could have made it lie flat but it has little effect on the line.

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