Friday, May 22, 2009

The Bridge Over The River Fear

Me. Freefalling.

The morning of Wednesday, May 21st, 2009 I woke up with a medium strength hangover. It was unreasonably cold outside and drizzling a little. The drama of the landscape served as a minor distraction, as did the starbucks coffee we both drank on the 20 minute drive to Kawarau but ultimately our minds were focused on what lay ahead. The idea of jumping off this bridge had transmogrified from a giddy and distant abstraction to a sharp impending reality. The car was silent. We savoured our coffees as though they might be the last drink we'd have. I imagined the wind whipping around my body and thought about how hard it would be not to look down.

I'd been thinking about doing this for a long-ish time and the more I swirled it around in my head the more dread I attached to it. I thought about how the most fun way to do it would be to abandon all hope and just dive gleefully into the abyss. To let go and savour the fear. And I thought about how impossible that would be, how almost every step along the evolutionary path had reinforced mechanisms in the brain to not only fear heights and falling from them but to actively contravent conscious instructions to the body which commanded the individual to leap from anything much higher than itself. I thought about how it would be a waste to leave Queenstown not having done it. And I thought about how it would be a waste if I had to be pushed. I knew the real thrill lay in pushing oneself.

For months now I had tried to trick myself into not thinking about it by resolving to just not do it. I said to myself and anyone who asked that it wasn't for me, that I wouldn't enjoy it. That all this passe thrillseeker rubbish wasn't my bag. And it worked for the most part but once Adam had booked his I couldn't let it slide much longer. I had to stop trying to decieve myself and admit that it was going to happen all along. That I was no different from the hundreds of others who had done it. I had something to prove to myself also.

And yes there have been many before me and there will be many after: older, younger, weaker, stronger, braver and more fearful but as you're standing at the edge telling your brain to tell your body to jump I defy you to tell me those thoughts were a comfort.

When I checked in, I tryed a little gallows humour. The bloke who weighed me was used to it.

"How many times have you done this?" I asked.

"Oh I wouldn't do that... Too dangerous, mate." he said with a smile. We're led to the edge. Adam goes first but I don't see the jump. When I'm led out to be strapped in I ask again. Again the guy says he's never done it, that it's too dangerous, and again that knowing smile that tells me he's probably jumped off everything taller than himself in the country.

And then I'm standing there. Someone tells me to wave at the camera. Are you ready?

I've already jumped.

I still can't believe this is me...

P.S. Through the giddy and delighted laughing as the rope tensed and I was sprung back up I could see Adam sitting on the shore below. I shouted to him "I THINK I'VE LOST THE BABY!" but he didn't hear.

I can't wait to do that again.

1 comment:

lemongoat said...

I can't believe that's you! Even with photographic proof and I'd know that ass anywhere I still can't believe you jumped into/off/from/out of/away from/ THAT. WOW.I'd be an incontinent wreak who'd need to be thrown over.