An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Fighting my fears

climbing.jpgLast week, I was on a cruise that took us to Cozumel. One of the activities that we had scheduled for us was climbing on the towers and coming down a rope and other things that required working at heights. In all these activities, adequate safety precautions were taken so we wouldn’t be hurt. Yet, the fear of heights is not easy to get past.

Our first attempt was at the highest tower. We had to strap ourselves and plung down almost 40 feet to the ground – slowly but dangling in the air next to a tower. As we made our way to the top, looking down made me dizzy. But this was a demon that I had to deal with today. It didn’t matter, I thought, if I had to die (being a little more dramatic than it warranted!) but I had to go through this experience.

And then the rain clouds appeared on the horizon.

The line was moving slowly ahead of me as we were perched on the platform up there and the clouds were approaching us. As two people were left in front of us, the rain was over us. My otherwise more courageous wife panicked now and thought it was better to climb down the stairs and asked me if I will accompany her. On any other day I would have. It seemed dangerous to just stand there as wind was fast and the rain was getting heavier. But this had to be done today. So, I stuck around.

Now, it was my chance. He hooked me up to the chords and asked me to lean back while I dangled back in the air from 40 feet above the ground. Oh Shit!! This thing was funny when others did it, but its kind of tough when I have to! And, they had this good looking lady take our picture while we dangled. So, you were really scared but had to show all courage standing there.

I reminded myself my credo for the day – Do, even if I had to die. Well dangling with safety chord was a lot easier than dying I reasoned. So I leaned back. Fear of the unknown is not easy to get away from. My face betrayed it all.

As I stood there at that height and looked below, and was still in control of myself, I knew now there was nothing to fear. Just then all fear vanished. I was ready for the descent.

In the next few seconds I descended below to the ground. For a person, who hates to take physical risks because of conditioning from early childhood, it was one of the biggest obstacles to get over.

Many years back in school, I had joined the swimming class, where one day we were taken to the “deep end”. It was 18 feet deep and the first time I went there I was really scared. Then I swam from one side to another and I knew I could manage myself. Then I did one breadth. That was even better. Then I could do one length of the pool. Now there was nothing to fear! Until we were asked to go to the top of the diving boards – 12 feet above the ground. And asked to jump from it. Now, this was something else! I still remeber that the air around me at that height and the smell of it all as I prepared for my first jump. There was a feeling of something sinking in me. But I took the plunge. And once I did, it was not that tough after that.

That is the secret to dealing with fears – just look at the worst case scenario. How bad can it get? Once you have understood that even death is not a dampner and nothing to be afraid of, you suddently realize that there is nothing can stop you. As you make the jump for it, things change. Once they change, they CHANGE!

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