The Fear is Real!
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." - Nelson Mandela
Lots of people have said to me: "You go on lot of adventures, but they are always cold or in the mountains. Would you consider a jungle trek?"
My response is always the same: "There are no bugs in cold mountain environments. There are bugs in the jungle. I don't 'do' bugs"
This dislike of bugs comes from a very specific fear... A fear that has been with me for many years...
Imagine the scene... It's the middle of summer. A very light breeze cools the otherwise hot air [but not too hot!] on a beautiful sunny day in the countryside.
We are sat outside a remote pub enjoying lunch with an ice cold lemonade.
Suddenly, like an evil ninja dressed in a stupid yellow and black stripy outfit, a wasp decides that he wants to attack!
Yes. Attack! All wasps are in attack mode!
Regardless of conversation, or what delicious meal I am enjoying. I leap away from the group and run at least 50m from this deadly assassin.
If you've seen me around a wasp, you will know that the fear is real. It's not just sweaty palms, but a full panic attack ensues... I have to get away immediately!
Nowhere to run...
A few years ago I was multi-pitch rock climbing with a friend.
I was leading the third pitch, 90m off the ground, and precariously manoeuvring on the tiny holds offered by a vertical lump of rock. My last piece of protection was placed 8m below me and my belayer was 4m below that.
I suddenly stopped and started waving my right arm (left arm pinched in a tiny hole in the rock in order to keep me upright and attached to the cliff face).
"What the hell are you doing?", said my belayer.
"I'm being attacked by wasps!", was my response.
"Just leave them and they'll go away!", he said.
"No they fucking won't. They are attacking me!", was my panicked retort.
"Just put some gear (protection) in [the rock], otherwise you're going to take a pretty big fall!", he insisted.
"No fucking way!" - I climbed the rest of that pitch as fast as I could without placing any more protection...
No way around
A few years after the climbing assault, I was visiting friends - Richard and Annabelle - in Hong Kong.