Back in 2014 I was absolutely terrified of heights. Working on a four story building, I almost never visited the balcony because I was too afraid to look down. My hearth started racing every time I did so and it felt like things were not about to get better anytime soon. We all heard stories about facing what you are afraid of, but I was sure nothing could help so I was not actually trying to find a solution.
All that changed in that very summer when I was offered a tandem paraglider flight. Of course at first I though it was a lousy idea. I could not even imagine opening my eyes while flying, so why bother? But I was also very curious how bad could that be, and since I was not very sure that curiosity killed the cat….Several days after taking the flight, watching over and over the pictures we took up in the air, I decided that if there is anything that could cure what I experienced this might as well be it.
Flying solo when you are afraid of heights is a funny experience all together. As soon as you leave the ground the brain starts to put on an entire show. So it takes a lot of work to silence the monkeys and keep going. A very useful trick for me was to find a song that could keep me calm when the panic was rushing over. I did sing “I will survive” for a couple of weeks, but didn’t find that very helpful so I decided to change the tune to “Don’t worry, be happy”.
There were times when I started singing as soon as I left my house and kept going while arranging my wing, flying, landing and arriving home again. Talking myself out of the panic zone also helped some of the days, although most of the phrases were something like “Oh, God! Oh, God!”. But every now and then, when I could relax a bit and enjoy the view, it felt like the world could vanish and happiness would still remain.
I cannot look down from the balcony just yet, but it’s been two years since I started paragliding and it changed my entire life.