Intro to falling

Posted: January 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

Hello again.

Day 2 of having a blog, and fortunately it’s the weekend. This means I actually have things to write about!

First off, I should probably tell the world a bit more about myself. I am a female college student studying to be an electrical engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology. My dream job is a research career in the field of robotics. I’m 5’3″ (and a quarter!) and filled with creativity and a strong desire to push my limits. Here’s a list of some of my favorite activites:

  • Martial arts: primarily Hapkido and Taekwondo. (look them up!)
  • Caving/Spelunking
  • Parkour
  • Reading (current obsession: Sherlock Holmes)
  • Doodling (yes, it’s an activity. Very helpful for coming up with new inventions)
  • Baking/cooking
  • Probably something else I can’t think of right now.

Parkour and caving are some of my more recent pursuits. For a while I have had an annoying fear of heights, or at least falling from them. I had managed to avoid high places for most of my college career until I volunteered to help install some industrial lighting in a small gym. I climbed up the scaffolding and was immediately greeted with jelly legs, courtesy of my nervous system. It took a lot of effort to stay standing on the platform, but eventually I was able to focus more on the task at hand so that I could ignore the fact that I was 20-25 feet off the ground (not that I’m any good with guestimating heights. My brain likes to make every tall place look like I’m on top of a mountain). I have found that even at 7 feet off the ground my legs like to freeze and my stomach wants to embed itself into my spine. It’s not a fun experience and is a hindrance in my quest to engage in exciting activities. So therefor, I created a plan to overcome this fear simply by tackling it head on.

I started by climbing on top of a 15 foot platform. In front of this was a large crash pad topped with two foam mattresses. It was pretty much the softest and safest thing I could land on. After about 10-15 minutes of pacing the platform, sitting down, getting up and pacing some more, working out the physics of the inevitable fall, and listening to words of encouragement from two of the coolest people I know (who happen to be the main workout instructors for the gym) I finally found myself falling through the air, watching the ceiling grow farther away until I landed safely on the pile below.

I found the fall itself surprisingly relaxing. I had fallen as if I was crashing into bed, feet up and in front of me, arms spread out to the side, and my upper back seeking to find the soft foam pads that were waiting to catch me. In that position I knew there was no longer anything I could do to stop the fall. I was going to go down so long as gravity kept working, which it did, so there was no point in fighting it. There was no point in worrying what was going to happen when I hit. It was a blissful moment when I just accepted the physics of the situation and let it happen. Of course, as soon as I rolled off of the crash pile it took about half an hour for my legs to stop shaking, but still–I had done it! Take that brain and your oversensitivity to certain stimuli!

I’ve gone off the platform a few more times since then. I’m pleased to say that it only takes me about 5 minutes now to unfreeze my legs and convince myself to jump. I still have moments where my brain wants to shut down and makes me question why I need to do something so silly as jumping off of platforms, regardless of their height. In response, I tell myself that I do it so that I don’t have to live my life having to make considerations for fear. Fear is our bodies recognition that something is potentially dangerous, and that is a great thing to have. However, I want to be able to choose whether or not to listen to that little warning in my head. So to my brain (particularly in the region of the amygdala)  I would like to address this message:

Yes, leaping off a wall could result in injury, but it is also the fastest way down. So thank you for the warning brain, but I will take over from here.

  1. Jim Flowers says:

    May your time in cyberspace be rewarding!

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