Ever since I lost my husband, almost 4 years ago, I have been searching for ways to keep my mind a quiet and peaceful place rather than a refuge for random and often destructive thoughts. I meditate and can regularly be found contorting my body into yoga poses in an effort to capture a few blissful moments of a completely silent mind. Last week I was lucky enough to have two such moments; one spiritual and one brought on by absolute terror…..
I am not exactly terrified of heights – I can climb a ladder without collapsing into a state of panic – but anything over about 20 feet of the ground and I start to feel distinctly wobbly. Therefore, it was a bit of a revelation when I found myself high up in the jungle in Thailand, connected to a couple of ropes, whizzing between platforms on a zip line. I was actually feeling pretty confident after the first few but then we arrived at a platform with no zip line but a people sized hole in the floor. Our guide, seeing the bemused expression on my face, gently explained that we would be abseiling to the ground 40ft below. My first thought was ‘oh shit’ and my second was ‘ok, where are the stairs?’. It turned out that there were no stairs and the only way down was through the hole. After receiving many, many assurances that I would be gently and slowly lowered to the floor I sat on the edge and gingerly eased myself over. As the thought entered my mind that actually this wasn’t so bad I dropped like a stone! Apparently our young and mischeivious guide thought it would be funny to try and give me a heart attack, the little tinker (this was not the word I used at the time!).
After my legs started working again and my breathing had returned to semi-normal, we continued on to the next zipline which was a very long way up and 400 metres long. Bugger!
However, after the absolutely terrifying plummet through the hole in the floor I found myself agreeing to try a ‘superman’ flight which involved being attached to the underside of our guide, face down so that you could really appreciate the several hundred feet drop to the jungle floor, and then flying to the next platform 400 metres away.
For those 400 metres, with my heart racing and a huge smile plastered on my face, my mind was completely and totally empty; possibly abject terror had temporarily suspended any kind of cerebral activity or maybe it was just because I was feeling like a big kid and having the kind of fun that you can only have when you just let go…..
The second experience I’ll tell you about next time.