Thursday, August 11, 2011

That little voice...!

I don't think I will ever call myself an extremist or an adrenalin junkie, but ever since I was a child I preferred the more adventurous outdoor activities to the more moderate day-to-day activities most of my fellow peers were in to at the time. While my best friend was reading stories about "Trompie en die Boksombende" I was outside popping wheelies on my Western Flyer Chieftain or falling off my skateboard trying to do my first full 360. This never changed as I grew older, much to the dismay of my mother of course. I remember one evening while we were at the dinner table how she desperately tried to change the topic of discussion. Kiwi Extreme set up a bungi jump at the Gouritz bridge 25km away from where we lived and she didn't want me to know about it. Her effort was fruitless because I had jumped just a week before but never told her in an effort to spare her the agony of dealing with it. This was just the way I liked living my life and still do today.

One thing I can say after all these years is that no matter how close I tried to get to the "edge", I never did something foolish to get myself pushed off. I know that there are so many people (including my mother) that would immediately jump up and say that I have just been lucky or that I can thank my lucky stars, guardian angel and whatever for that, but I have something else I feel deserves the credit for that. I know many people will testify that they have little voices in their heads telling them to do this or that or to NOT do this or that. Some even blame their miserable lives on these little voices while others will dedicate all their success stories to them. I also have a little voice, and we are quite close friends to be honest. I daily thank my little voice, because I honestly believe that this little voice has NEVER prevented me from doing anything exciting or adventurous but it has ALWAYS kept me from doing something foolish or irresponsible.

I have always wondered about adrenalin junkies and why they do the things they do. Why does one person see no danger in jumping from a plane while another will always feel uncomfortable with the idea? And why do some not only jump, but push the limits to the extreme by wearing squirrel suits or opening up their chutes minutes before impact? Where does one draw the line? I could never get the answer to that, so I decided many years ago to listen to that little voice instead.  When the little voice told me to pack my glider while the rest of the guys proved that it was still safe enough to take off, I obediently packed my gear and enjoyed the rest of the day watching them fly. When the little voice told me that even though the waves are smaller than it was on my previous surf session and that I might end up on the rocks today, I left my surfboard in the car and watched the guys taking the one perfect wave after the other without thinking that I am losing out. I think my biggest achievement ever was to never feel like a loser waiting it out when everyone else was out there enjoying themselves. I believe the day when you go against your little voice for the wrong reasons, that is the day when you start looking for trouble and start moving "too close to the edge".

When the opportunity to do this bike trip to Vic Falls came up, I was all fired up and ready to go. This was an opportunity of a lifetime I thought, and if you think of it, not really that dangerous at all. When our tour leader bombarded us with information of what could go wrong, I got a bit annoyed with all the negativity associated with his mails. I was not telling myself that what we have planned is not dangerous and that we should not prepare ourselves, I was just looking for more positive things to convince me that we are doing the right thing. The reason for this was because there was a little voice speaking to me all the time and I didn't like what it was telling me. I had a list of things about this trip that I did not feel happy about, and even though my little voice told me that over and over, I still decided to go ahead with it. It would be the the first time in my life that I ventured into an adventure against my better judgement....

It is day five of our trip and I am sitting in my bed in Cape Town licking my wounds. Well, not literally licking them, but surely aware of them. On day three I had a minor accident that left me with a couple of bruises and a damaged bike. Sadly I had to come home while my friends continued with their tour. For some inexplicable reason I am a bit relieved that I am here and not still on my bike somewhere in Africa right now. For some reason my little voice let me off easy this time, even though it is still going to cost me an arm and a leg to get my bike back on the road again. Thank God only figuratively for me.

I've had enough time to think about this whole trip and how it ended for me. I cannot put my finger on any of the items on that "worry" list that made me lose control of my bike and I am not looking for excuses or for anything or anyone to blame for my mishap. What I do know and strongly believe however is that I should've listened to that little voice when it told me that I should back down from this trip. My bike might be broken into pieces, but fortunately my spirit is not. In the greater scheme of things, this is a minor fall-back and a good lesson learned. My only advice to everyone out there is, "Listen to your little voice, it's there for a reason...."

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