Drama Llama – Wk 1

It has been a while since I wrote about anything. But now, I have got a reason to record what is going on. So I might try and post weekly about it so that I can see how I am progressing.

I have always be afraid of water. No clue as to why. It might have something to do with my parents trying to dunk my head in the river Ganges when we were on our once in a lifetime trip, or it might have been my friends who tried to drown me in the sea in Bali. Whenever we visit a water park I opt for the looking-after-the-bags duty which will keep me away from the water and the waves. I don’t like water entering my ears. Not one bit. Now I live in a sea side city with beautiful beaches. I love to go and get my feet wet in the sea but that is all I am willing to do. I have had “learn to swim” as my New Year Goal for so many years that I ultimately stopped adding it to my list.

So I decided recently that I will try and get this fear out of my way. It has been going on for way too long. I got myself enrolled in a “adult swimming confidence” lessons, which runs for half an hour every week. I did my first week. Well, at least I am still alive and am here to tell you all about it. So that is a start.

I knew I was afraid of water and I wouldn’t get in the pool, but I didn’t expect that I would be petrified. My instructor asked me to get into the pool first, and I wouldn’t. I was getting terrified more by the minute and was on the verge of getting up and walking away. It didn’t matter that the pool was so shallow that the water was only up to my hip. It took her a lot of effort to convince me that she wouldn’t let me drown and she will be there to hold my hand for me to relax. My first activity was to lie on my back and enjoy the water. Again, I wasn’t gonna let my ears get wet. As a result I wasn’t relaxing and I was panicking to get my leg back into the water. All the while I was holding on to the noodle and there was no chance of going under water. But how would a scared mind know that. After 4 attempts she realised that I wasn’t gonna do it well on my first attempt so she asked me to try and lie of my front and try and kick the water. I tried. I really really tried. I promise. My legs wouldn’t go up. It was happy inside the water touching the ground. But at least I wasn’t panicking about getting my ears wet.

After half an hour of this drama, my legs still wouldn’t stop shaking in-spite of it being inside the water and now that I have stopped doing any manoeuvre. She praised me for trying so hard and that I had got into the water in-spite of my fear and survived 30 mins in it. That is a big plus according to her. I thanked her and was happy that I am getting out of that place.

When I came back home (thanks to Mr M for picking me up after I didn’t want to wait another 20 mins for the next bus) I just wanted to give up and bawl my eyes out. I was so close to losing my shit. I hate that I am so afraid, but also glad a bit that I am doing something about it. If you don’t get any more updates about my swim drama, you know that I have drowned in the shallow pool of water.

The next step

“Everybody knows that. The missing step is always the next.”
― Óscar Lopes


SL-Week: Pride

This week’s prompt from Sylvain is Pride.

This photograph was taken from the top of the Tower of Seville’s Cathedral.  Why am I am proud of this photograph? It is because this is the first tower I climbed during my trip to Spain, (and its 35 floors above) without any support (i.e. nothing to hold on to) and without any help (i.e. without taking the help of my friends to carry my camera bag, which can be quite heavy with all my lenses and stuff). I am afraid of heights and I had a broken ankle the previous year and Spain trip was the first trip after my ankle got better. But still the fear of falling down again or slipping up was very much there. And while climbing this tower (which doesn’t have stairs), I almost stopped at level 24 and was sweating so badly because of fear of falling. But failing after halfway through wasn’t something I was ready to live with and so I slowed down and went ahead and finally when I reached the overcrowded tower, I was so overwhelmed with peace and contentment. And I was proud of myself because I didn’t left myself fail that day. 1-IMG_4656

Pune Trip – Kolad

The second stop of the trip was to Kolad. The sole purpose of visiting this place was to do the River Rafting on Kundalika River, which has rapids of grade 3 at this time and during the peak monsoon, you can get rapids of grade 4 and 5 too, according to the guide. But the best is in Rishikesh, according to the guide, if you are too adventurous. My first river rafting experience, and for someone who doesn’t know swimming, it was a great experience. We were just three of us to paddle and we got a short and quick session on the commands and how to  paddle in case of rapids and stuff like that. It was very cool and surprisingly I didn’t have any pain later after all that paddling. The first time the guide stopped us between rapids in a place, he told, ‘madam abhi paani mein jayegi’ (Madam will go into the water). For that madam, that is me, replied ‘madam kahin nahi jayegi’ (Madam will not go anywhere). He laughed and said that if I felt afraid to do it here there is yet another place where the water is much more still and calm. I said how much ever he wishes that we all get into the water, I won’t. But then the other two went into the water and was calling me to try it at least once. After a lot of thought, I decided that ‘what the hell, let me just get this another experience over with’ and was trying to get into the water very gracefully, when suddenly I found myself in it. That guide seeing how much I was trying to avoid it sort of gave a slight push. But I know that without that I wouldn’t have done it. I would have crawled back again to my place and sat tight. I am grateful to him for that. And it took a very long time for me to relax. I didn’t let go of the rope he gave me which was tied to the boat and a lot of assurances from him that he will be there to save me in case of any eventualities (in spite of him being just half my size). And I was in the water for almost 20-30 mins, most of it with me lying flat in the water and straining my neck to keep my head from not getting pushed into the water.  But after all that drama, I did it and it felt really really good, even if I may not do it again if you ask me now. Realized how damn afraid I am of getting into the water and how it felt good to let go of that fear for sometime. Yay!!!

Damn! I was proud of myself that day.

Where Khaas Plateau was for colors and flowers, this place was for a little adventure.

SoCS: To try it without the help.

“Will I be able to do it without their help or intervention or will I have to trouble them again to help me do it ” ; these were the thoughts that came to my mind when I went on the small trip above the Monteserrat towards San Juan view point near Barcelona. It was a slightly steep climb and there was more to see. But I was am afraid of heights and getting so far the point was in itself a huge deal with my leg. So I asked my friends to go ahead and check out the rest of it and come back and in the mean time I can take a break. But after catching my breath, I started panicking! I wasn’t sure if I can climb down that steep path without holding something to make me feel safe ( all that falling and breaking really did a number on me) and I was so afraid that another fall is not gonna be pretty and I really really need to break the jinx that I get injured during every trip I take (just a few days left for the trip to be over). So after panicking and trying to calm down myself, I started to walk down slowly to the next point from where the path was relatively flat , at least not that steep to make me break into sweat. It took me 10 minutes to come down, whereas for the rest it was a just a minute down the path running. Let me tell you , climbing up even with the fear of heights and breaking your body parts, is easy. Getting down , when you can actually see the height and really get hurt by a slip, is the most difficult part. But then when I did it I was so thrilled and happy. Sometimes a little faith in ourselves and a little push to the inner self is all it takes.

This post was written in response to Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt.

This week your Prompt will be “with/without.” Choose one to write about or include both. Write about any subject you wish, as always.

Courage – What is it

Recently when I saw the movie ‘The Hobbit – An unexpected journey’ I was impressed by a scene where Gandalf gives Bilbo Baggins a sword (after they dig it up from the cave underneath) and Baggins stares at it and the next conversation is as below

Bilbo Baggins: I have… I have never used a sword in my life.

Gandalf: And I hope you never have to. But if you do, remember this: true courage is about knowing not when to take a life, but when to spare one.

When I watch a movie there are times when some dialogue strikes me and then stays with me, for whatever reason. This was one such. But when I heard it, I also remembered another one from the movie ‘The Princess Diaries’ which also talks of the same thing. The dialogue there goes like this (I think Mia either thinks of this when she remembers her dad or she tells her Grandma about it, I forgot the situation as of now)

“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear; The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.”

And then there is the movie ‘Troy’ which I really loved for all those dialogues (in fact I saw it twice just to concentrate on those dialogues the second time and for the record, I am not a Brad Pitt fan).

Achilles: You were brave to fight them. You have courage.

Briseis: To fight back when I’m attacked? A dog has that kind of courage.

So you see one dialogue made me remember a couple of others related to the same thing. In different context’s the meaning changes, as it does for a lot of things, but today I remembered only about Courage. May be because I just gave a small / mini lecture to someone very close to me about being brave and courageous on the onset of terrible events that has taken place in their life and all that. That person had always needed that extra word of encouragement to keep going when the going gets tough.

When you check the dictionary, it only says ‘A quality of spirit that enables you to face danger or pain without showing fear’ which is in sync with the one that Mia mentions. But look at the other two too. I know that in Troy that dialogue might have been used for other purpose, but is fighting back as a result of a reaction to the action  (Newton’s Law was it?) or  on impulse not considered courageous? Why not ? Well, for that I think Gandalf gives the answer. Don’t you think so ?

So what actually constitutes courage? Another interesting article that came up was this ‘Six Attributes of Courage‘. It was interesting and well I thought I will try the first exercise and share it with you 🙂

Beginning with the first definition of courage, “Feeling Afraid Yet Choosing to Act,” answer the following questions:

Think of a situation as an adult when you felt afraid, yet chose to face your fear?

The situation: The first time I did an adventure, Para sailing in Lake Tahoe

(a) What did you observe, think, and feel at the time?

I am quoting from my post ‘I wanted to try para sailing for a long time.. but because of my acrophobia I didn’t have the guts to do it or even think of it.’

(b) What did you or the people around you say, think, and do to help you face your fear?

The couple (a family friend in fact) were very kind and helpful, in fact the wife was so bubbly and fearless and considerate that some of her fearlessness caught on me and she was considerate to give me company (rather than go with her husband).

(c) At what point did your fear start to go down? How did you feel afterwards?

Quoting from my post:

“So now after going the 1000 ft height my feet became numb due to the cold..and what was I doing.. well  as you can imagine by now, I was closing my eyes so tightly that I could have gone to sleep……<a few more lines in Tamil>….and then slowly and steadily I opened one eye and looked around.. WOW.. Can this be so beautiful.. Am I seeing it for real.. There was no noise (except for the flappings of the parachute up there) and down it was just water (with different shades of blue.. lighter blue near the shores where the depth is less and dark blue in the middle) and surrounded by mountains and a clear blue sky… Oh my God.. It was so awesome.. you cannot describe it in words.. if its so impressive looking @ it with one eye.. what would it be if I used both my eyes.. So I tried…And for a few seconds I tried to see and when I saw where my boat was down, I immediately closed one eye.. I dont want to use both my eyes.. I am so happy using one and enjoying with it. We were there for almost 10 mins and in that 1000 ft it was really heaven.. You have to enjoy it to know it. I cannot do justice to that feeling with words.. There is that postcard picture in my mind from that height..having the full view of Lake Tahoe…”

(d) Now think back on a situation in childhood in which you faced your fear. How was it the same or different than the first situation?

In my childhood, I don’t think I ever faced a fear of a physical activity. Emotional yes, Physical, no (I always gave power to fear). So I don’t have anything to compare.

(e) Finally, think of a situation you are currently facing that creates fear or anxiety. What are you most afraid of?

The only thing of any physical nature that I am afraid of , even thinking about it gives me goosebumps, is “bungee jumping”. I am afraid that when I dive head down I will fall in the water and since I cannot swim I will drown even before help can come to me 🙂

(f) Now, is there a way to apply the same skills you used in the two earlier situations to be more  courageous this situation. Remind yourself that you have these skills and have used them successfully in the past. What mental or environmental barriers stand in the way of using these skills? How can you cope with or get rid of these barriers?

I think the main barrier in this is my belief that I have acrophobia and because of that anything related to heights is gonna be a problem for me forever. But the experience in Tahoe made me realize that I need not overcome my fear but still find courage to do what I really want even if it involves heights. I just have to push the excitement, my curiosity and my positive attitude up (in this case of bungee jumping all I have to think is, well I would be fitted with a gear to prevent me from drowning if I told them that I don’t swim right… so if things go worse , all that will happen is that I will be dunked in water and will start floating up coughing…that can be the worst of it… see, problem solved 😉 ) front in the queue and push the fear to the last and then I could get things done.

A single feat of daring can alter the whole conception of what is possible – GRAHAM GREENE,

What has been your experience with courage ?