I’m terrified of heights. Like, get on my hands and knees, clinging to whatever solid ground I can reach while shaking like an islander caught in a snow storm without a coat.
I will get hysterical, tears are a real possibility, and it’s pretty much a given that my voice will go up about ten octaves. Heights are definitely not my thing!
So when I travelled to Cairns and was faced with the prospect of riding the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, I actually thought I would die a terrible, untimely death and that my then fiance, would have to call my mum and say, ‘sorry, I scared your daughter to death’.
FYI, I was pretty young when I got engaged, so if my mum were to receive that news from a boy that I’m sure she wasn’t overly fond of at the time, probably would have led to him following me to my grave.
The situation was pretty dire, guys, like, life or death dire!
Anyway, we took a lovely scenic train trip up the mountain on the Kuranda Scenic Railway, which I was totally okay with, like it was a little nerve racking peering over the edge of a cliff-face, but I could handle it because I felt pretty safe sitting comfortably in the train’s carriage. Besides, I was a little too wrapped up in the whole scenic experience, and it was pretty damn hot and humid and the seats were leather, so my stress-head gene was distracted by a few other more pressing things.
So, the trip up was fine. The train trip was followed by a heap of delicious bakery food, like true blue small town Aussie food – meat pie and lamingtons galore! And a lot of shopping at the really cute markets and art stores in the area.
Coming down is when things got dicey. Rather than opting to take the bus back down the mountain, bloody Mitch (my then fiance, now husband – why did I marry him again?) insisted we take the Skyrail. ‘The Skyrail,” I exclaimed, barely able to hide how mortified I was. To give you a bit of perspective, the Skyrail is glass bottomed cable cars that travel down the mountain, above the forest. It’s bloody terrifying! And, it goes way too fricken slow!!!
See that sunburnt hand clinging to the seat for dear life? That’s me!
Each cable car seats four people, and they really load them up. No private two person cable ride across the rainforest was to be had. Although I really shouldn’t complain since we were seated with a lovely elderly Amercian couple who were on a cruise around the coast of Australia.
The bad thing was that this sweet old couple had to witness my hysterical, fear-induced fit that was so far from ladylike I may as well have rescinded my claim to being a woman right there and then.
I hyperventilated, I stuck my head between my legs, I got teary, and I told Mitch I hated him, all while using some pretty colourful language. But, the woman sitting next to me didn’t blink an eyelid, instead, she squeezed my hand and started talking to me. She asked me simple questions, like where are you from, are you studying, when are you getting married? And, surprisingly, eyes locked with this strange woman from half way across the globe, I completely forgot where I was.
I started asking questions back and even managed to sneak a few quick looks out of the window to soak up the incredible views. It was a magical moment when everything just seemed to stop still and my mind, for the first time in my 24-years on this Earth, actually shut up.
Now, that’s not to say that I got to the bottom and realised I’m not as scared of heights as I thought I was – I don’t think that could ever happen. But, despite my relief at being on solid ground again, I didn’t regret the trip. A part of me, deep down inside actually enjoyed it, which is something I never thought I would ever say.
I can’t remember this woman’s name, and I have no idea who she is, but she has touched my life, even if only in a small way because even now, almost four years later, that moment in the cable car is one of the most vivid memories I have from that trip.
She momentarily helped me conquer my fear of heights, and for that I am grateful. So, when you head out on your next adventure, don’t be too scared to do something you ordinarily wouldn’t. Fear means you’re human and that you’re living. It can be just as exhilarating as it can be terrifying.