My chest was visibly moving as my heart pounded against it. I dragged my heavy leather boots up the last three steps and up to the ledge. I made sure that I had my back towards the steep drop because I knew if I would look down into the ravine I would never have the guts to jump. The harness that Bill had so enthusiastically tied around my shoulders and waste, rubbed against me and underneath the thick cords my clothes were drenched from nervous perspiration. The wind brushed against my face but I barely felt it, I was way too terrified. My hands were shaking so hard that I could barely steady myself on the steel railings that lined the side of the platform.
Nevis Bridge spans a ravine, desolate and rocky, and when I had looked down on my way up to the bungee site, I felt so queasy that I almost fainted. The few bushes scattered amongst the boulders down below, looked so tiny, that I could barely make them out, small little green specks amongst a sea of tiny rock-dots. The drop was the height of a 43 story building.
I teetered on the edge of the wrought iron plate as I began the count down. My voice quivered as I spoke, the veins on my forehead pushed against the sweat drenched foam on the inside of the helmet and I heard the word “five” leave my shaking lips. “four” and I squeezed my eyes closed behind the goggles, “three” the wind was pushing against me, teasing me, “two” my breath was short and staccato “one” I pushed back from the edge and fell.
I was falling faster and faster and all I could see were the rocks below shooting up towards me, from tiny little dots they became huge sharp edged mini mountains. The sheer terror of free falling towards what seemed to be certain death, gripped me by the throat. I forgot about the harness and the ropes and I surrendered myself to the paralysing dread.
Bungee jumping is just one of the many fear inducing activities that we are lining up to do. What is it about fear that we find so enticing? From roller coasters to horror movies we pay good money to get scared out our wits. It doesn’t seem to make much sense.
Well, not until you really think about it because, in truth, fear is the strongest confirmation of life. Let me explain what I mean.
Nothing much happens to things which are dead. Death brings about the end of all change and the end of choice. Death is the end of affecting the world and being affected by it. There are no consequences and there is no danger.
Life is quite the opposite. Being alive means that I am relevant. Every moment produces consequences, either good ones or bad ones. It’s the bad ones we fear and in the good ones we rejoice. Having those options of good and bad consequences is essentially what allows us to be a part of the living. A life which has no fear is a life which has no consequences – which is death.
The first step we can make in our spiritual journey is to be scared of making the wrong choice. That trepidation is the very emotion that will enhance the joy of living