A love of the great indoors trumps the allure of adrenaline-filled adventures.
Aquarter century ago, when bungee jumping was all the rage in New Zealand, I left for a cricket tour there with sage words of advice from friends. Well, actually, one word: don’t. They need not have worried. I did not have the guts to do it then, and in the intervening years I have not become any braver. I was the great indoors type then, and I remain so now.
How lovely it is to report then that – hold your breath – I have not changed at all. I ducked bungee jumping then, ditto now. I avoided skydiving then, ditto now. Unlike a flowing river, you cannot but step on the same me twice. Or thrice.
I write this from New Zealand, having spent more time avoiding things than doing them. Not even the definitive book on the 10 billion great adventurers in history will find a mention of my name.
I say all this having just watched two friends bungee jump and come back to tell the tale. “The high point of my life,” said one. “Mmmcxqettch,” said the other, his excitement making him more inarticulate than usual.
A possible title for my autobiography might be: ‘Why I Did Not Bungee Jump, or Skydive or Parachute Down to Earth or Absail or Walk on a Tightly Stretched Wire Between Two Skyscrapers?’ When Hollywood makes that into a movie, either Woody Allen or Angelina Jolie could play me, except that the former is a bit shorter and the latter a bit more physical.
Why do people want to throw themselves off a platform tied by their ankles to a long rope, and accelerate at the rate of 10 metres per second, when they could be reading a good book – or, if it comes to that, a bad book – instead? And you can’t get away with saying, “Because it’s there”. I mean, so are bad
Why throw yourself off a platform tied to a rope when you could be reading a good book?
breath and ingrown toenails, but we don’t make a big deal of those. On an earlier trip to New Zealand, I watched a sport where a person with Velcro on his chest ran the distance of a room and threw himself against a Velcroed wall. The winner was one who got stuck at a higher level. There was something delightfully absurd about this – if life itself is meaningless, why not Velcro yourself to a wall? It is as meaningful as anything else.
Perhaps that is the philosophy behind these things. Bungee jumping reminds us of the absurdity of life. So does honking in a traffic jam – and I much prefer to get my philosophy at a traffic signal than hanging upside down over a body of water with the bridge a distant memory.