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How I faced certain death and conquered fear in 3 easy steps


Categories: Writing


Client: Self-initiated work


Küla creative team: Anthony Bennett



Seven days ago Anthony Bennett edged perilously towards a sheer forty foot drop and almost certain death. Being that he is of sound(ish) mind and resides in a free(ish) country, the two questions you may be asking are 1. Why?... and 2. Are you dead? Anthony has the answers for you here.

 

This pirate-less and splash-less modern day take on plank walking was actually an outdoor activity type thing called a Powerfan® (a parachute drop simulator) which consists of being trussed up to some flimsy looking hydraulic climbing apparatus and prodded towards a precipice beyond which lies your apparent doom.

 

Convinced I was looming toward my actual demise, I was driven on by a combustible mix of shame and duty. Shame of bottling out in front of 4 kids who were behind me (including my sneering, worldly-wise 11 year old daughter and my still naïve “dad can fight James Bond” son) and duty that I had to appear like a brave grown-up.

 

Fatefully, I faintly registered the words “on 3 mate”. So, hands shaking like Gazza after a week’s detox and limbs as heavy as a ten tonne bison with a leap of leopards on its back, I inched forward robotically to the sound of the hangman’s… sorry, the instructor’s count. 1… 2… 3……… ahhhhhhhhhhh! WOW!! Several split seconds of life-jittering free-fall followed by a sharp, life-saving slowing of momentum later and the utterly exhilarating, life-affirming affair was over, leaving me with unadulterated feelings of joy, awe and wood chippings in my undercarriage (it was a less than smooth landing).

 

Other than the realisation that not having my spine concertinaed into my scalp could be such a relief, so what?


Well, the funniest thing. While the logical part of my brain knew beyond doubt that the health and safety regs followed by such organisations were as tight as Joan River’s face and I was definitely 100% safe, the automatic lizard part of my brain was screeching “danger – danger – high voltage!” There was no imminent threat really, but every sinew of my body and nervous system acted as if I was dropping into a pit of lions.

 

Then suddenly, on 3, when the decision was taken away and the last step was taken, all fear dissolved to be replaced with an almost blissful rush of clarity, ease, elation.

 

And as I dusted myself off and undid my trusty karabiner, a thought came… “isn’t that just so typical. Being afraid to act even when objectively there’s no real danger. But when I let go and take that all important step forward that’s when I really feel like I’m present, I’m alive; obstacles are overcome, things start to happen.”

 

How many relatively mundane, everyday events do we back away from because we perceive lion pits, dragon’s lairs, sheer drops when really all that is before us is a telephone call, a meeting with another human being or a slightly bumpy landing. Our wonderful, at times overactive imaginations (they’re great servants but terrible masters, as a wise man once noted) are the only real obstacle to our taking a chance to find, at worst a valuable learning experience, at best euphoria.

 

What could you do, have, give if you decided now to go on 3 every time? Are you ready? 1, 2…