A brick of the wall of fear

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Back in my lover’s arms, it was not long before I dragged her with me from island to island in the beautiful archipelago. A short flight had taken us to the well-known Cebu where both of us would, without truly realising it yet, face our fears. Though it would be under mild conditions, nonetheless it required a big swallow and hopefully it is a brick in the build-up of the real deal. For my lovely Filipina, it is the water she fears. No, she is not scared of the kiddie-pool or anything to that liking. It is the depth of the endless oceans and seas as well as the big creatures within that intimidate her. Nonetheless, time after time she had proven herself to be bigger and stronger through the swimming and snorkelling we had done up to that point. But, today would be different, today would be a terrifying day for her.

It took a painfully long and bore-some ride in a minivan to get us to the location. Here, on addition to the depths and wavy water, would be giant whale sharks occupying the space under the surface. Before the water-splashing could commence, we were informed and instructed. A few rules and commonsense was spread, whereafter we boarded the tiny boat from which we would jump to join the giants. Though the activity is known as touristy, you do not realise the crowd of people when you are face to face with a meters-long creature. No, all and everyone is bygone. Under water, it is only you and them. I had widened eyes from excitement. In absolute awe, I glanced around, watching the group of sharks that possessed such majesty move gracefully around in the water. Truly mesmerising these, to make it sound less eerie, docile fishes with their dotted, smooth skin seeming to bask in the attention. Skin I had felt more than once when they brushed up against us. I remember a wide mouth, as if smiling broadly pointing towards us as it slowly came closer. Although it didn’t feel threatening, having seen the size on them, it is not a shock that one would get such a fear for the deep waters and the colossal water-dwellers it holds. Nonetheless, Kath too, watched with adoration and once out of the water had been filled with excitement.

Where exploration of the deep seas and facing big animals – on land as well as water – has meant a great deal for me and something I always look forward to, it is the absolute nightmare of my significant other, apart from elephants. But then for her, which perhaps comes from the past feeling of a caged bird, enthusiasm arises from the dream of being airborne. She has the interest of jumping off a bridge with a rope tied to her leg or the madness of exiting a plane before it has come to its landing. Where my heart begins to pump at an alarming rate at the mere thought of something this insane, jumping these heights had been a bit too cuckoo for me. Ease me into it and perhaps. But, both were unaware that this day, in the same week she swam side by side with whale sharks, would be the day of easing into. We had opted for the canyoneering tour, rather than the simple visit to Kawasan Fall.

This resulted in another boring drive that brought us to a warming family. A meal that was not included, but offered nonetheless had been consumed, the usual regulatory talks had been had and we were provided with a safety vest. It was just the guide and us on this tour. We began far away from and on the other side of the actual entrance to the falls from where we’d walk to the start. The hike to the beginning of the activity took longer than we both anticipated, but once we got there, we immediately got introduced to a jump. Heed to the fact that being aerial is not where my strongest suit lies. Without seeing it coming, which is most likely the best way of overcoming, I stood on top of a tall rock and I was told to jump. What do you do when you’re told to jump? I could feel a lump in my dry throat and a heart pumping, but, unaware there was a second route, it seemed it was to jump or turn back. So, I did. Something which started as scary soon became exhilarating, amazing and so much fun. Though the moment of relief soon faded and fear took its place again as I had to watch my loved one jump. Incapable of jumping forward, she launched herself in the air, plummeting down mere centimetres away from the sharp, painful rocks.

From there, we followed the stream along a picturesque setting of rock formations covered with bright greenery, clear blue water cascading down and the breaking through of the sun. The guide had used up the entire space on the camera with the hundreds of picture and videos he took over the passing hours. Here and there where cliffs to jump off of, some higher than others, all leading up to the eventual biggest jump that had me in near choke of breathe at the sight of it. Something I did not want to jump off of. Now, I could easily claim it to be 20 meters high and get away with it, however in all honesty I do not know how tall it was. Sites exclaim 15-20 meters with confidence, elsewhere I heard and read it was only 10, but to me the numeric didn’t have any meaning. All I know that truly matters is that I had enough time falling down to run out of breath and spare a second to think. A second in which I realised this is a goddamn big jump. A second of realisation I had done something I never would have. If I hadn’t done the canyoneering in advance, had my lover’s support and the final push of the guide, I know that not in a thousand years would I have gone. And once the toes began to enter the water and both the impact of the speed, adrenaline and coolness of the water kicked in, I felt amazing! I gasped, trying to catch my breath back. Gallantly I flung my head back out of the water and peddled my feet to stay up before shooting a quick thumbs up to the ones viewing. It was such a thrilling event for me, had I been asked to jump out of a plane in the three seconds I was succumb by the rush, I might have accepted.

But that has always been the case. When you do the things that make you the most uncomfortable or those that frighten you to your core, nine out of ten times you come out a better person. Challenge yourself, push yourself further than you are today and always try to improve yourself. Pick up new hobbies, get back into your creative roots, go an extra mile on your jog or make the leap you were so scared of taking. Doing so, you will find out more about yourself, confidence grows and overall happiness increases. At least, it does for me. Have you done anything that you initially were too scared to do?