Intense fear is not an emotion I often experience any more. I know I did when I was younger and was afraid of the dark. Then, when I was a little bit older, the same happened with asking girls out.
I do not have an intense fear of airplanes, fire, swords, objects being hurled through the air, being in the water, getting lost, or even the vast majority of people. At this point in my life I thought that I had conquered pretty much everything there was to be afraid of. Now, this does not mean to say that I do not have respect for things that are dangerous. With both power tools and fire, it is important never to get cocky. Always have respect for what you are wielding, because otherwise it will rear up like a horse and hit you where it hurts. I have come to understand this, albeit largely the easy way, and I acknowledge the risks that I take when I use either one.
Last week I took a flying trapeze class. I had thought that I had conquered my fear of heights, which had occasionally crippled me as a child. I’m a pretty decent climber, I walk on stilts, I do tricks in the air, I even hang lights of the edge of catwalks. None of that had prepared me for this though.
The shaky ladder going up was bad, but nothing that worried me too much. I’ve dealt with worse. One of the people who went before me had said that the ladder was the worst part and that everything would be fine after that. They were wrong. Grabbing onto the bars of the platform was terrifying, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was visibly shaking. Then I had to reach out for the trapeze as one of the instructors held onto the harness I was strapped in to.
I knew I was safe. I saw the net, I new that I was attached to a rope being held by a world renowned trapeze artist. Yet none of that made jumping off the platform any easier. I think I tried to jump three times before I actually got off the ground. Then, all of a sudden, I was swinging rapidly through the air. My already tired shoulders were having to support me as I rushed through the air until the man on the ground said it was okay and I dropped to the net.
You likely expect me now to say how everything was fine once I started swinging, or that the second time was exponentially easier. This may have been the case for some people, but unfortunately I am not among them. I went another three or four times, and although the jump got a bit easier, not much else did.
I have decided that I will at least give flying trapeze one more go to see if anything improves. Every time it was my turn I went up that ladder and jumped off that platform, so I know I can push through it. We’ll see though how much I really want to.