Once upon a time I was fearless. Well, almost. My girlfriend and I were the ones that would be found way offshore body surfing the waves, surrounded by surfers—Geez, I bet they hated that—and I was only ten years old.
I hated the idea I would miss out on life, that some adventure would pass me by and I failed to try it. Hanging from a rock face while climbing cliffs on the rough coastline of south Western Australia was near the top of my extreme fun; camping under the stars while on camel safari through Rajasthan, India, was exotic; freezing my butt while on the Karakoram Range, Pakistan, was as close to miserable as it came; listening to the roar of lions outside my tent in the Serengeti National Park, Kenya, was character building; but bungee jumping over the Zambezi was just plain mad. That wasn’t enough. So I learnt to fly and spent a lot of time in the northern deserts of Western Australia flying supplies into small aboriginal communities.
But life changes. People unfortunately have to grow up and responsibility kicks in. Somewhere along the way I lost my fearlessness. The insidious creep took me by surprise. Now I’m the nervous flyer, the one in the lift whizzing to the top of the Eiffel Tower with my head buried in my husband’s shirt sleeve, counting to ten with slow deep breaths. When and how did that happen?
I’ve recently returned from a camping trip with my children. We hiked to a natural wonder, a massive rock face rising out of the forest like a Arthurian fortress. We’d heard about the skywalk that wrapped its way around the rock and felt drawn to give it a try. The skywalk, aptly named, was nothing more than a steel grille below our feet and glass paneling to the side. Large bolts jutting from the rock, the only thing keeping us afloat.
Needless to say I froze at the start of the walk. Stretching tens of meters below my feet was nothing but jagged rock and forest. Images flashed through my mind of the bolts buckling and giving way and me plummeting to the ground. Once those thoughts appear, nothing seems to remove them. Retreat! my mind yelled. But farther in front my children were joking around, taking funny photos of each other and having a great time, filled with the same sort of zest for adventure I once owned.
At that moment I decided my fear would not turn my feet around. I was not going to scurry back to safety. I was not going to lose this moment, because I may never come this way again. I completed the walk. I hated it. My fingers turned white with restricted blood flow because I held the railing so tight. I forced myself to stand at the end and look out over the massive drop, all the while wanting to through up. We all took photos of each other in silly poses. I even smiled. Once over I scurried back to safety.
I suffered flash backs and lots of ‘oh my god, what ifs’, but I did it. That was the most important thing.
I hope you keep doing the amazing, the scary, the challenging. Life gives you one chance: take it.
TJ Adams x