Some friends are planning an adventure trip – river rafting, rock climbing stuff. “Come along,” they chirp like youngsters. How I love the enthusiasm. “I need to write,” I say, aware that it is a weak excuse. Or is it? Writing for me is as adventurous. The rush of water frothing and the sheer steepness of a climb work for me…as I wrote once a while ago…
I have never gone bungee-jumping, and I don't think I will.
I did, however, go para-sailing. This was in Nice. The water was clear, but having walked a bit into it, there was no smooth and silky sand beneath; there were pebbles and you could not go in barefoot. The flip-flops would make squishy sounds.
It was wonderful watching people turn into slight figures in the air with a parachute opening out and a speed boat propelling them. The sight was beguiling.
Once strapped to the harness, I had an ache in my belly.
"Run," was the instruction, and run I did till I felt I was being dragged and within a few seconds I was up in the air. Suddenly, neither the sky nor the sand mattered. One could hear the sounds of the men in the boat as they tried their tricks of tugging the rope that connected us.
This was supposed to add even more to the excitement of being pushed and pulled. For a while the wind against my face felt different, almost like I was being whipped. Soon enough it would change its stance and I would be enveloped in its arms, and it seemed to have many arms.
I had been told that they would signal and that was when I’d have to steer the pulley and I would be gently brought down into the water close to the shore.
I pulled, kept pulling, and the next thing I knew I was gasping for breath. The harness felt heavy, there was water filling my mouth. Two life-guards rushed to bring me out. I tasted too much saline. My eyes were stinging. They patted me on the back and then they shook their heads in anger. They had forgotten to ask me the most important question, “Do you swim?”
I don’t. I knew it was crucial. But the thought of being airborne made all questions and answers redundant.
I just don’t care. I suffer from spells of vertigo, from motion sickness, but I often take the risky rides. I do not need to prove it to anyone, for no one is there when I am doing it. I just feel like there is a life beyond the one I live.
That day when I was almost drowning happened to be my birthday. I suppose some would see it as another birth. I see so many births of myself. Each day.
Did I feel close to death? No. The only time I feel close to death is when someone else dies.