Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Rolling velocity of unladen human - the story of inner trust

Working from home has been a new normal for me for quite a while - I've been doing it for the past 7 years and don't see myself longing for daily trips to the office any time soon. But it has its challenges - for me, I need to get out regularly, broadly speaking. Otherwise the subtle sense of unrest begins to accumulate, layer by layer, until nothing seems enjoyable anymore.

For me, the solution lies not in traditional avenues of escape like bars and clubs, but rather in the exhilarating rush of speed. At the age of 33 I obtained my motorcycle licence, relishing the sensation of propelling myself through the air. Yet, motorcycling is not a carefree experience, and even more so as you grow older, have a dear wife, daughter and other responsibilities. I still enjoy it immensely but it's not the kind of experience where you just let go and enjoy the wind. That is, not the thing I would do when I'm tired and have some layers of stress to undo.

During a conversation with my psychologist I confirmed that my inner love for the sensation of wind rushing past my skin is true. Determined to experience this freedom with the need for control, I considered various options. Skydving with an instructor crossed my mind, but then the eureka moment struck: a theme park! I always loved them when I was a kid but was too scared to do the larger rides.

Now, at this stage of my life it looked like a perfect opportunity to both embrace childhood dreams & fears, as well to enjoy the wind!

Living in Melbourne, Gumguya looked like the best option. With my ticket booked, I showed up ready to try my best.

My first conquest was TNT, though I chose a seat farther from the front. Even before we started the climb, adrenaline stirred, coaxing layers of pent-up stress to the surface. And I was getting ready to scream, giving myself permission to scream, as much as I need. It felt like a well-mixed cocktail of "doing the right thing", taking the right care of myself, and being so nervous & scared at the same time. As we hurled downwards, it came time to scream. And I screamed, screamed my lungs out. At one point of the ride, a young lady on my left shouted asking if I'm OK. I could only show her thumbs up.

Once disembarked, with my heart pumping, I had only one thought: "AGAIN!". And on I went, again, and then again, just enjoying myself screaming through the wind.

Then I felt my body and brain are well overstimulated and it's time to absorb. I went for a 30 minute walk around the place until my body stopped feeling all spongy and the heart rate halved back to my normal one.

The next challenge was Project Zero. That scared me a lot. At one pint I got to the front of the line but ultimately baulked. The fear grip was too tight. I could've forced myself but realised I'm here to have fun, and it wasn't fun. Just fear.

I went for another walk, thinking. The whole situation with Project Zero didn't make sense - it's absolutely safe, nothing can happen to me, yet I'm scared, utterly scared. It was irrational - when entering a freeway on my motorbike, I hit cruise control on 100km/h, take my hands of the handlebars and enjoy the ride steering the bike with my body lean - this is objectively a much more scary situation, with danger of death included. Again, irrational.

I thought about astronauts for a moment - they've been truly launched into the void, without any guard rails... Somehow the thought about astronauts lifted me up and gave me courage. I was still scared, but for some reason, courage contained that fear. Renaming Project Zero to Gagarin my head, I did a ride, in the middle seat. Surprisingly it wasn't as scary as my first time TNT, potentially because on Gagarin your body has much more touch points with the sled, whereas with TNT you sit in a kind of a harness.

Then it hit me - my fear is caused by lack of trust!. I didn't trust, so I naturally tried to be in control, of which you have zero when strapped to a moving cart, and then you panic! All I have to do is to trust these contraptions to give me a good ride and have fun. This was the matter of truly letting go! From there it all was just one great ride. I did Gagarin again, on the front seat - and it was nice! I did TNT twice again, on the front row and didn't scream - didn't want to, just leaned on the wind and enjoyed the ride.

The final test to my rediscovery of inner trust was riding Rebel. I just sank into the harness and enjoyed the physics. My jaw was so relaxed I had to pick it up after gravity forces pulled it out during the downswing. Sitting with your legs up in the air at the height of a ten story building is supposed to be scary, but since I trusted nothing could happen to me, I had no reasons for longing to be in control and then be scared & stressed because I obviously couldn't be in control. And after a full day of such an active meditation it was an easy thing to do.

I'm now curious if a theme park will do the trick the next time I feel I need to "get out".

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