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What Tames Fear?

April 18th, 2012 | No Comments

Hovering over the clouds in a 2-mile free fall

I resolved to skydive to celebrate my 50th birthday despite being a dedicated fear of heights chicken. On my 45th birthday, I vowed, after jumping off of a 32 foot cliff in Jamaica, that I would skydive next. You can check out my  pre-skydiving blog to confirm that I really was a overcoming a long-standing fear of heights to do this.

Now, if you watch my You Tube video of the actual jump (see below), you might think I would be scared out of my wits at least at some point.  If nothing else, the pre-skydiving video I had to watch prior to jumping should have rattled me a little. The short film explicitly states all of the dangers of sky diving including death.  The ambulance in the video makes it clear that this could end very badly. The video also features the inventor of the tandem parachute, Bill Booth (who basically looks like Rasputin or Osama Bin Laden) telling you that no parachute is foolproof. After that pleasantry, you sign your life away via several legal documents.

However, I wasn’t scared in the least. In the video, you will see a relaxed person who jumps without hesitation.   Was this really me?  Nary a bone was rattling in my body as I anticipated the jump.  Why?

What tames fear? Is it because a worse fear displaces a current fear?  In my case, did I fear being teased for now following through on my plan, schemed 5 years earlier with great bravado?  Maybe.  Or, was it a feeling of being invincible?  Many young people are fearless because of incomplete ability to judge real consequences.   I am probably too old to be consider myself invincible although I do remember having the feeling that this wasn’t going to be my day to die.  Or was it resolve, the firm decision to accomplish task?

I do believe in my case it was resolve that tamed my fear.  As I approached 50, I wanted this to be a symbol of how I wanted things to go for the next 50 years.  My first 50 years were excellent but they really were colored by important commitments to be a relatively well-behaved daughter, a supportive wife, and to raise 3 good citizens, to teach them to use their talents and to nurture them.  Now that I am more of a “consultant” to them, there is every reason for me to jump into these next years with gusto.

And in all seriousness, my father died at age 51 not far from where I was going to do my jump.  You really don’t know when the “deal will go down” for you so it’s important to do a few bold things while you still have the chance.   Bold does not equal foolhardy, by the way.   I did do some research before I went through with it.

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Posted in This Is Madness, Wagers and other Bad Ideas

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