Monday 5 December 2016

Felt the fear and did it anyway... twice

John Masterson

Published 07/11/2016 | 02:30

Margaret Nolan from Castlecomer trying the zip line, Ireland's longest over-water one. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Margaret Nolan from Castlecomer trying the zip line, Ireland's longest over-water one. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Like most people I spend a goodly portion of my waking time in my comfort zone. I do things I am familiar with, eating the same things, drinking the same things, and even saying the same things. Every now and again I realise I am boring myself as much as I fear I may be boring others.

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While we need to live much of the time in a world of familiarity where stress and anxiety are low, we also need change. It will increase anxiety levels but it is worth it. The alternative is stagnation. My comfort zone has had a few expansions in the last few weeks. None were planned. Two have happened. Both were beneficial.

I do not have a great head for heights. For months I have been talking about going to Castlecomer Discovery Park and doing their zip line. It is the longest in Ireland, probably the highest and goes over a beautiful lake. I was on a Sunday walk with a friend when it was suggested that I should give it a try. I am the sort of person who goes down on my hands and knees near a cliff. I freeze on the roof of a building. I get vertigo when I see sailors climb the mast of a ship. The top of a well-secured ladder is my limit. I knew I would lose face massively if I did not zip line. The slagging would have been merciless. I was fitted with the gear. I knew it was strong enough to pull a bulldozer but I had to convince myself the sewing was good. I went through all of "the chain is as strong as its weakest link" stuff. I ascended the platform and, like an idiot, looked down. I felt like a condemned man. If there was any way out I would have run. The "executioner" gave me my briefing and hooked me on. I walked to the edge and funked it. Twice. My mind knew the cables would support a small elephant but my body didn't. I focused. And launched myself. It was fantastic. I reached the other side with my heart pounding, thrilled, exhilarated, and wanting to do it again immediately. One down.

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