facing fear of height

I was sure I was going to die — not from impact but from fear.
Just heard of the news 17 years old girl did die several weeks ago.
At that moment in 2012, after finishing my internship, I was rocketing face-first toward the Guangzhou Baiyun district with a bungee attached to my legs.

So I hoped.
A sudden jolt let me know it was, indeed, connected.
Can’t help closing my eyes.
Thank God!
I yo-hoed skyward, elation replacing terror.
I even did a backward summertime, giggling, on the second ricochet.
When the momentum expired, I was in shock. I dangled from the rope, sporadically twitching and feeling like I was outside of my body. I empathized with what a trout swaying from a fishing line must feel like.My first step on land failed. My legs gave out. They were bags of soup.
I crawled on my hands and knees up the hill.

I still don’t know why I did it that day. Perhaps pure impulse.
But I didn’t realize what I had done for myself long term, until moments after my “leap of faith”.
I’d joined friends to visit the scenic area, declaring days before our departure there was “no way” I’d bungee jump, as others were planning.
I’ve been horrified by heights for as long as I can remember. That day, walking up to the bungee platform, I reeled as I came close to the edge of the reservoir. I forced myself to peer down.
I swirled while standing still.
But, to my surprise, on the walk down after the jump, I felt zero fear when I gazed over the dam’s edge. I even leaned against it, laughing.
Call it accidental extreme-exposure therapy.
Yet the residual apprehension I still experience in high places probably qualifies as extreme, since it’s often irrational.
China has provided many exciting opportunities — and often forced me — to face my fear of heights.
It’s a land of glass bridges, Air weightlessness and Pirate Ship.

In 2015, I spent hours working up the courage to take a cable car to the peak of Tianmen Mountain(天门山) in Hunan province.
Now, I ride these with ease.
But the most afraid I’ve been, other than bungee jumping, was floating in a hot air balloon in the Yingde with my husband and parents around National Day in 2016.

Still, I’ve recently set about finding places around Guangdong to try paragliding, parasailing or ultra-lighting.
I’ve decided to face my fear head on, full throttle.
Friends ask, “Why?”
Psychologist Carl Jung once said: “Only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it wins … the treasure hard to attain.”
And existentialist Jean-Paul Sarte argued: “To know what life is worth, you have to risk it once in a while.”
As far as I’m concerned, in terms of facing my anxieties, there’s only one way forward — up, up and away!

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